What Is Neck Pain?
The back of your neck consists of the cervical spine, the muscles and ligaments that surround and support it. The cervical spine is made up of seven bones called vertebrae. The centre of this column of vertebrae and discs is the spinal canal, which contains the spinal cord. The spinal cord is made up of nervous tissue that carries messages to and from your brain. Nerves from the spinal cord come out from between the vertebrae in the neck to transfer messages to your neck and arms.
As we age, degeneration of the vertebrate and discs in the neck sets in. Bones from the neck form bony outgrowth called osteophytes or bone spurs. These bone spurs irritate nearby muscles, ligaments and nerves, causing pain. Neck pain can also be caused by accidents that jerk the neck violently and over-stretch the soft tissues beyond their limits known as whiplash. These quick action compresses your neck vertebrae and strains the neck muscles as it pushes your head forward, thus impinging on your nerves, causing pain, numbness and sending a radiating and tingling painful sensation down towards your arms and fingers.
Bad posture during your daily activities can also contribute to your neck pain. For example, sleeping on your stomach and holding the phone with your neck. Emotional stress can also cause us to clench our neck muscles and tensing them up without you realizing it. Neck pain may radiate down to the shoulder or between the shoulder blades, it may also radiate out into the arm. This is caused by irritation of the brachial plexus which is a network of nerves that goes to the arm from the spinal cord in the neck. Acute pain can also force the head to turn to one side, causing a one-sided or double-sided head pain. The pain tends to come and go, with occasional flare-ups. You may have a pain attack after unaccustomed use of your neck or if you sprain a neck muscle or ligament.
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