The annual incidence of cervical (neck) pain is reported as being as high as 15%. Reliable sources report that cervical spine degenerative disorders are more common that those affecting the lumbar (low back) spine and develops at an earlier age.
Common symptoms related to neck pain and disorders include:
- Neck pain that radiates or shoots into the shoulder, arm and upper back
- Reduced range of neck motion
- Upper extremity numbness, weakness
- Slower reflexes in upper and lower extremities (i.e. arms, legs)
Cause of Neck Pain
Muscle sprain / strain (i.e. whiplash) is a common cause of neck pain. Such disorders are self-limiting and usually improve in days to a few weeks. Parts of the cervical spine that may be involved include:
Cervical facet joints or zygapophyseal joints allow the neck to flex, extend, and rotate. These small joints are susceptible to arthritis and injury.
Cervical intervertebral discs may bulge, herniate (rupture), and prone to other degenerative problems. Degenerative disc disease is an often an over-use or age-related condition. Cervical disc bulges or herniations may cause nerve irritation or impingement resulting in pain and symptoms as previously described.
Unlike whiplash, an immediate one-time injury, degenerative disorders develop over time from over-use and abnormal wear and tear, such as repeated heavy lifting. Such abnormal wear and tear may cause micro-traumas that can weaken soft tissues in the neck.
- Spondylosis or spinal osteoarthritis is a common cervical degenerative disorder.
- Osteophytes are bony overgrowths. An osteophyte may irritate or impinge a spinal nerve causing inflammation and pain.
- Cervical radiculopathy is pain described as electric or shooting pain. Disc herniation and osteophyte formation are common causes.
To Learn More
If you are interested in an evaluation into the cause of your neck pain, please contact our pain management experts at the California Spine and Pain Institute. Our physicians routinely treat cervical pain. We would be happy to make an appointment for a consultation and provide additional information about other treatment options.