- Neck Tension and/or Tension Headaches
- Mechanical Neck Pain
- Cervical Radiculopathy
- Stenosis or OsteoArthritis of the neck
Neck Tension and Tension Headaches
A lot of neck and head pain comes simply from tense muscles in your neck and shoulders. Our poor little necks have to support our big skulls all day! This tension often develops from sustained postures, such as sitting at a computer for long hours, or other repetitive postures or activities. An example is a factory worker sitting or standing and doing the same repetitive task day in and day out, hour by hour. Muscle tension makes the muscles of the neck and upper shoulders feel tender and hard or tight to the touch.
Ouch! Neck pain caused by muscular tension is felt most often when you are actually in the sustained posture or in the process of doing the repetitive activity. Unfortunately this pain in the neck can also get worse over time so it might only be felt later in the day or even the next day. Don’t stress yourself out! Stress can make tension pain worse so keep those pressures of life in check. Ongoing tension or stress can also lead to a tension Headache.
Mechanical Neck Pain
Ever simply woke up with a sore neck? Sometimes you get a ‘kink’ in your neck and moving a certain way just keeps causing you pain. This is called mechanical neck pain because the mechanics of the neck just aren’t working right! The culprit of this type of neck pain is a stiff or stuck joint in the neck but can also be an injured ligament or a strained neck muscle. This pain is felt more on one side than the other.
Cervical radiculopathy is a pinched nerve in your neck. It is characterized by radiating pain from the neck to the shoulder, shoulder blade, arm, or hand. Weakness and lack of coordination in the arm and hand can also occur.
The condition affects most often individuals in their 50s. Heavy laborers, athletes and people who sit for long periods of time often get these symptoms. Individuals with arthritis in the cervical (neck) region can also be affected.
Cervical radiculopathy occurs when a nerve root coming off the spinal cord becomes compressed. The compression can occur for various reasons. In younger people, it may occur when a cervical disc herniates due to trauma. In older individuals, it commonly occurs spontaneously as a result of arthritis or decreased disc height in the neck region.
When the spinal nerves are impinged, they cannot properly send messages to the muscles from the brain, nor receive proper sensation from the specific arm location the nerve travels. Everywhere the spinal nerve travels will be affected. That is why a pinched nerve in the neck can cause pain, weakness, and loss of sensation in the arm, even though the pinch is in the cervical region.
Stenosis or OsteoArthritis of the neck
It happens to us all: as we age we get some wear and tear on our body, including the neck. This wear and tear is called osteoarthritis or spondylosis.
Wear and tear affects the joints of the neck as well as the discs that are between the vertebrae in the neck. As the joints wear and tear they don’t glide and move as smoothly as they used to and this causes pain. A disc that is wearing out can cause pressure on nerves in the area, which in-turn also causes neck pain. If the pressure on a nerve is really severe, it will even cause pain that radiates down into your arm. Arthritis can cause stenosis as well.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing within the vertebrae of the spinal column that results in too much pressure on the spinal cord (central stenosis) or nerves (lateral stenosis).If you have spinal stenosis in the neck (cervical spinal stenosis), you may have weakness, numbness, and pain in one or both arms and even in the legs, depending on which nerves are affected. You may or may not have pain in the neck itself.
What comes to mind when you think of whiplash? A car accident, of course! It is true that this is one of the most common ways to sustain a whiplash injury. What most people don’t know, however, is that whiplash can occur even without having a motor vehicle accident (MVA). Just a simple missed step, a knock down in sport,
or an unexpected push while out in public can result in that whipping action of your head and neck. Our necks are not designed for whipping! This force, great or small, injures the structures of the neck and creates that ongoing pain in the neck.