What Causes Cervical Pain its Symptoms and Diagnosis


Cervical pain, a second most prominent pain after back pain!

Cervical or neck pain is the pain associated with spondylolysis or osteoarthritis of neck and affects the bones, disc or joints in the neck region. The primary cause of cervical pain is wear and tear of bones and cartilage of neck other causes are muscle strain, nerve compression, injury or disease condition.

Cervical pain is the fourth leading cause of disability; on an average two-third of the population experience cervical pain at some time points during their life span, the prevalence is more in the middle age group.

A brief understanding of the anatomy of the neck will help out to know more about the causes of cervical pain!
So let’s go in brief with

Anatomy of Neck
In general terms, the cervical spine (neck) joins the chest and shoulders region to the head. It is one of the highly intricated structures of the human body and comprises of the spinal cord (that helps to convey message via neurotransmitter from the brain to rest of the body).

The cervical spine serves numerous role such as protect the spinal cord, facilitate support to the head and upper back region. Everyday activity or trauma put stress on the neck and is one of the prime reason behind cervical pain.

What causes Cervical pain:
Neck pain can be due to several reasons but is more often related to age. As we age, like rest of the body the joints and disc in the cervical spine (neck) slowly get degenerate and become more prone to cervical spondylolysis (commonly known as arthritis of the neck).

Some other causes of cervical pain are a muscle strain, whiplash (neck injury), poor posture, or it may be due to some viral infection and swelling of the throat and lymph node.
Some primary causes of cervical pain are:

Muscle strain: muscle strain is defined as stretching or tearing of the muscle. Day to day hectic life schedule involves some tedious movements that put pressure on the cervical spine, resulting wear-and-tear of bone, joints or discs thus causes cervical pain.

Cervical injury (Whiplash): Whiplash is a neck injury condition that generally occurs due to sudden movements of the head in backward and then forward direction. Neck injury is one of the primary cause of cervical pain.

Herniated discs: it is a type of injury in the cervical region and generally occurs when cracks develop in the spinal discs. Due to these cracks, there is leakage of internal cushioning material that put pressure on the spinal nerve resulting in cervical pain. Numbness, tingling and pain in the arms region are one of the common symptoms of cervical pain that are associated with such type of injury.

Dehydrated spinal discs: As we age, the discs present between the spin slowly get degenerate and dry out resulting rubbing of joints or discs and cause severe cervical pain.

Poor posture: maintaining good posture is essential for our overall well beings. It improves your health as well as build up your confidence level. A long working hour with poor posture put lots of pressure on your spine, resulting in pain and stiffness. Poor posture and irregular bedtime routine can lead to several disease conditions, and cervical pain is one of them.

Symptoms associated with cervical pain:

The most commonly observed symptoms associated with cervical pain are

–  Pain and stiffness: if pain, stiffness and weakness persist on either side of your neck or in the middle ear and extend to the back of your head and shoulder, it could be a prior symptom of cervical pain.

–  Tingling or numbness: when the muscles, bones and tissue surrounding neck region stressed too much, the nerve becomes pinched resulting, you may feel numbness, needles or tingling sensation and it could be due to cervical pain.

–  Muscle spasms: muscular spasm is the sudden stiffening of muscles; it can be in any region of the body. When it occurs in the neck, it causes unpleasant stiffness and pain resulting, difficult to move your head. It usually lasts up to a few hours or a day, and you can easily get rid of the pain by gentle stretching or by applying heat or ice packs.

–  Some other symptoms related to cervical pain are a headache, shoulder pain, facial pain, decreased ability to move your head, dizziness or lightheadedness, difficulty in swallowing, tenderness and sharp shooting pain.

–  Sometimes symptoms of cervical pain are associated with upper back or lower back pain (that generally occurs due to the inflammation of the spine).

The treatment of any disease condition or any type of pain depends upon the prior symptoms. So before proceeding with any treatment, one must always consult with the doctor. It is also essential to know about your disease condition, especially when you are suffering from cervical pain because the spine is the prime part that helps in connecting other body parts. So any mishaps during treatment could lead to significant injuries.

In the prior section, we studied a brief about cervical pain and its anatomy, what causes cervical pain and symptoms associated with cervical pain.

Now, let us enlighten you,

How to diagnose cervical pain?
The diagnosis of cervical pain can be based on prior symptoms. The doctors will take your medical history, examine and check for numbness, muscle weakness and tenderness.

Imaging test: in order to get a clear picture and actual cause behind cervical pain, the doctor will advise to take imaging test such as:

X-rays: it gives information about the affected area of neck region where bones might pinch the spinal cord or nerves or is there any degeneration.

CT scan: it provides detailed cross-sectional views of the entire region of necks.

MRI: MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses strong magnetic radio waves that provide a complete image of soft tissue and bones, including spinal nerve and spinal cord.

All these imaging studies will help out to know the major culprit behind cervical pain.

Some other tests are:

Electromyography (EMG): it measures the speed of nerve conduction and provides information about the specific nerve functioning.

Blood test: blood test provides information about the infection or any inflammation that might be one of the causes behind cervical pain.

Concluding, Cervical pain is the most prominent and fourth leading cause of disability in people with an annual prevalence rate of more than 30 %.

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