Neck pain is a common problem with multiple causes. Common symptoms include tight, stiff muscles, spasms, headache, reduced ability to turn one’s head and pain that gets worse when the patient holds their head in one position for a long time.
What Causes Neck Pain?
The neck is part of the spine and therefore consists of vertebrae and associated tissues like discs. Various inflammations, injuries and abnormalities can cause neck pain. Many people experience occasional neck pain. The condition is often caused by poor posture, overuse or normal wear and tear. It can also be caused by an injury like whiplash. Other common causes of neck pain include osteoarthritis, herniated discs or bone spurs pressing on a nerve and strained muscles.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is one of the most common neck injuries, and it is therefore a common cause of neck pain. It is caused by sudden and violent movements of the head. The patient’s head jerks backwards and then forwards with great force. These jolts force the muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues to go beyond their normal range of motion. The patient typically develops symptoms within 24 hours of the original injury. In addition to neck pain, symptoms of whiplash can include blurred vision, fatigue and dizziness. Causes of whiplash include car accidents, blows to the head and injuries sustained in contact sports, like football or boxing.
What is Cervical Spondylosis?
Cervical spondylosis is another name for osteoarthritis of the neck. It is very common in older people; 85 percent of people over 60 have some degree of neck osteoarthritis. Being overweight or having injured the neck in the past increases the chances of developing cervical spondylosis. A susceptibility to the condition can run in families.
Tension Headaches and Migraines
A tension headache is the most common type of headache, and it can cause pain ranging from mild to severe. Tension headaches are caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck, and they can be chronic or episodic. In addition to neck pain, they cause a feeling of pressure or constriction around the forehead, tenderness in the scalp and forehead and a dull pain in the head.
A migraine is a severe headache that can last hours or even days. They are most common in women. Migraines often go through three stages: the prodome stage, the aura and the attack or actual migraine. The prodome stage often starts a day or two before the migraine, and a stiff neck is one of the symptoms. Other symptoms of the prodome stage can include depression, food cravings, hyperactivity, fatigue and frequent yawning.
When Should Someone See a Doctor?
While neck pain is usually not serious, it can sometimes indicate a major problem. A patient should therefore contact our office if any of the following are true:
- The neck pain has lasted several days with no signs of getting better
- The pain is severe
- The pain is accompanied by numbness, tingling, weakness or headache
- The pain spreads down the legs and arms
If any of these are true for you, we encourage you to visit Longevity Spine in Oklahoma City. Dr. Darryl Robinson specializes in non-operative and minimally-invasive pain management, and will work with you to create a restorative rehabilitation program for you. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.