What is neck pain? We mean that pain located in the neck, also called “cervicalgia”, can occur at any age.
Neck pain can be the result of stress, strain and poor posture, as well as changes in temperature and humidity, and tends to strike more as we age. Even young people, however, can suffer from it, especially if they have previously suffered local trauma at the musculoskeletal level. It is mostly an inflammation of the cervical spine, identifiable as neck pain. On this page you will find lots of information on the causes and remedies to relieve neck pain.
Neck pain: what are the symptoms?
Muscle stiffness or contracture in the neck can cause neck pain that can extend to the shoulders, upper back and arms, but also to the head.
Neck pain can be accompanied by symptoms that vary according to the extent of the disorder, as the pain involves the nerves or according to the presence or absence of inflammation. In any case, the feeling of being prevented from doing what was previously done freely can be really annoying: even the most trivial movements can trigger pain.
Neck pain can be associated with compression of the nerves in the neck, which can cause numbness, weakness or a tingling sensation in the hands or arms.
The cervical muscles, in case of instability between two vertebrae of the upper part of the column, tend to contract, narrowing the central and lateral canals of the vertebral column where the nerves pass, thus triggering the pain.
Other Neck Pain Symptoms
Neck pain can also be accompanied by a feeling of muscle stiffness and headaches.
Neck pain can be associated with different symptoms: you can experience dizziness, headache, nausea and sensory disturbances. Even the neck and back muscles can be affected by inflammation of the cervical spine, with stiffness and muscle contraction.
You may hear or perceive pops or crunches when you move your head, due to the rubbing of the joint and vertebral structures.
These crunches are caused by the wear of the elastic disc that acts as a shock absorber between the vertebrae, which can cause rubbing between the vertebrae and cervical arthrosis. Symptoms of cervical osteoarthritis can include both finger pain and headache. When the gelatinous content of the disc (nucleus pulposus) comes out, it is called cervical hernia.
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Neck pain: triggers and consequences of neck pain
Neck pain can get really annoying as it prevents you from performing easier movements, like turning your head to look around or lifting groceries.
In fact, neck pain can extend throughout the shoulder and head area and involve many muscles.
Based on the structures involved, the following types of neck pain can be categorized:
Musculoskeletal neck pain: involves muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. If you wake up with your neck twisted to one side and stuck in that position, it could be acute torticollis. Causes may include poor posture or poor support during sleep. It usually only lasts 24-48 hours, but can also take a week to heal. Another cause can be muscular stress, i.e. carrying out work that requires repetitive or too intense effort.
Radiculopathy: if a nerve root, i.e. the nerves present in the lateral canals of the spine, is compressed, then the pain in the neck can extend towards the arms, resulting in numbness or weakness.
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Neck pain remedies and good practices to follow
Neck pain therefore has many causes, from muscle contractures to conditions such as osteoarthritis, or it can depend on stress, tension or incorrect posture, or changes in temperature and humidity.
It is a very common problem and the chances of suffering from neck pain increases with age. Following practices to prevent pain or doing exercises for the cervical spine can be decisive in avoiding the problem or at least reducing its consequences.
Pay attention to posture: correct posture
Among the most common causes of neck pain are muscle tension and strains associated with poor posture, for example, watching TV, sitting in front of a computer, sleeping in an awkward position, or excessively bending or twisting the neck. By correct posture, therefore, we mean that position which is ideal in order not to lead to a consequent neck pain. For example, when writing on the computer, it would be advisable to keep your back straight and lean against the chair, not keep your legs crossed and have a distance from the PC that corresponds to arm’s length. It is also advisable to remember to lower your shoulders, keeping them as far away from your ears as possible.
The tension of the neck muscles can also be caused by stress: when you say “I’m very tense” to declare your nervousness, you are referring to that anatomical reaction whereby stress tends to create an involuntary contraction in the muscles. It is therefore important to try to keep the muscles relaxed.
Accidents and anatomical causes
Neck pain can also result from accidents and subsequent injuries, such as whiplash, which occurs following a rear-end collision and which subjects your head to kicks. Another cause may be in the structure of your neck: for example, misalignment of the neck joints ( cervical dysfunction ). In both cases, you must go to your doctor in order to have a specific diagnosis and get adequate remedies for your case. Your doctor may recommend some cervical spine exercises that can help relieve pain and get you moving again.
Neck pain: exercises and treatment tips
Neck pain can usually be relieved by taking a few simple steps.
- You could try exercises aimed at neck pain and pay attention to your posture, making sure it doesn’t make the problem worse. However, if your neck pain is accompanied by numbness, loss of strength in your arms or hands, or severe pain in your shoulder or arm, you should see your doctor. You can ask your doctor for recommendations on exercises that are best for neck pain relief , such as stretches or light movements to regain strength and flexibility.
- Think that even breathing can be a fundamental exercise for solving cervical spine problems. In fact, breathing can affect muscle contraction, especially in the neck. Diaphragmatic breathing can be useful in order not to use the cervical muscles unnecessarily.
- Even yoga can be recommended as a useful practice to relieve neck pain : theStretching the muscles of the trapezius, back and limbs can aid in restoring motor ability to the weakened areas.
- Sometimes it may be necessary to resort to a self-medication pharmacological treatment with a pain reliever / anti-inflammatory.
- However, if neck pain persists, contact your doctor who will be able to request the most appropriate diagnostic tests and recommend the most appropriate treatment for your needs.
Neck pain: most common causes of inflamed cervical
- Neck pain caused by poor posture, for example while watching TV or while you are in front of a computer screen.
- Sleeping in an uncomfortable position can cause a contracture of the neck: for example if you sleep turned to the right you may have neck pain on the left side.
- Excessive bending or rotation of the neck: You can experience neck pain due to repetitive or too intense efforts, which can cause muscle strain.
- Tension related to stress: being tense means initiating an involuntary stress contraction which, if lasting, can cause pain in the neck. Consult your doctor first, who will be able to advise you on the most appropriate remedies.