For such a small area, your neck is responsible for quite a lot. Not only does it support your head, which likely weighs 10-11 pounds, but it also provides you with a wide range of motion to enable many of your senses, such as sight, smell, and hearing. So, when neck pain strikes, it affects far more than just the immediate area.
At Magnolia Medical Center, our team specializes in a wide range of musculoskeletal issues, including your all-important neck. In the following article, we take a look at one of the most common problems among our patients, and how we go about helping them find relief from their neck pain.
A quick look at the anatomy of your neck
Before we dive into the common drivers of neck pain, it’s helpful to quickly review the anatomy of this small area. At the heart of your neck is your cervical spine, which consists of seven small vertebrae that join your head to your body. Separating these vertebrae are your cervical discs, which provide cushioning, support, and range of motion.
Surrounding your cervical spine are a number of supportive and connective tissues, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Given the number of components that make up your neck, as well as its significant workload, it’s little wonder that neck pain crops up so regularly.
Strains and sprains
One of the leading causes of acute neck pain is whiplash, which occurs when your head is rocked back and forth violently, oftentimes in a car accident. This whipping motion strains the ligaments in your neck, which can lead to neck pain.
Outside of whiplash, muscle strain is another common problem, which typically occurs in people who spend a lot of time hunched over a computer or phone. In fact, the problem even has its own name — tech neck.
Degenerative disc disease
The discs that separate your vertebrae are made of a tough fibrous exterior and a jelly-like interior. When your cervical spine loses its natural range of motion, your discs can lose moisture content, making them less able to provide cushioning and support.
Degenerative disc disease not only leads to neck pain, but it can also cause pain that radiates down your arm.
Cervical herniated disc
On top of losing moisture, the exteriors of the six discs in your neck may become brittle, which leaves them prone to herniation. When your disc ruptures, some of the substance inside can leak out and irritate the nerves in the area, which can cause both local and radiating pain in your arm.
Another cause of neck pain is cervical stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal in your neck. Stenosis is more common as you get older because the problem is progressive. In fact, the stenosis may start in your 30s or 40s, but you may not feel any side effects until the narrowing starts to compress your nerves, which may not be until your 60s or 70s, if at all.
Treating neck pain
No matter how your neck pain developed in the first place, our goal is to restore pain-free mobility as quickly as possible. After we diagnose the source of your neck pain, we tailor a treatment plan to your unique situation and goals, which may include:
- Nonsurgical spinal decompression
- Physical rehabilitation
- Therapeutic massage
- Dietary changes
- Chiropractic care
- Supplements and nutraceuticals
- Regenerative medicine
As you can see, there are many ways we can approach your neck pain so that you can get back to your life.
If you want relief from your neck pain, please contact our office in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to set up an appointment.