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Overview of Neck Pain

It is estimated that more than 60% of people experience neck pain at some point in their lives. It is not uncommon to experience following a serious accident or sudden injury, like a car accident. Fortunately, only about 10% of these injuries develop into chronic neck pain issues that may require surgery. More often, occasional sore neck and other neck pain symptoms may be experienced, with most not needing more invasive treatment.

Also known medically as cervical pain, neck pain is a common condition that many people go through regularly in their lives. Although not as common as back pain, people experiencing neck pain can have real issues that hinder them from doing daily activities. Whether it’s difficulty with turning the neck or feeling a dull tenderness right above the spine, neck pain is a common condition that can mostly be remedied with self-care.

Back and neck pain and issues can sometimes even be linked together. As both neck and back areas of the body contain the spine that houses and protects the spinal cord and nerves that carry sensation to and from the body. Problems in one area could easily lead to symptoms in another.  Neck pain related issues can cause pain that can radiate (travel) into one or both of the shoulders and down into the arms, hands and fingers.  One more severe example is in a case of bad spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal. Severe compression on the nerves in the cervical spinal canal can compress spinal nerves to the point where even symptoms of tingling and weakness in the legs can develop. 

Neck Pain Conditions

There are few conditions directly tied to neck pain. More often than not, there are more conditions that lead to severe neck pain rather than being a result of neck pain.   In any case, common neck pain conditions needing advanced care typically result from a disc problem in the neck. 

Ruptured discs are a common condition of the lower back that can occasionally occur around the cervical area or the neck. A ruptured disc is when the outer layer of an intervertebral disc is torn and an inner shock-absorbing jelly-like substance begins to leak. This may cause compression on the nerves and create pain.

The most common neck pain conditions are a bulging disc or herniated disc. Common names used with disc problems include disc bulge, disc protrusion, disc herniation, ruptured disc, extruded disc, fragmented or sequestered disc, and “slipped” disc.

Treating Neck Pain

In most cases, acute neck pain symptoms can be remedied through medication, physical therapy, chiropractic care, or other treatments.

Chronic neck pain that causes shooting pain up and down the arms, weakness in the extremities, or numbness and tingling in the arms and/or hands, will need to be evaluated by an appropriate physician before any treatment is started.  In some cases, these types of associated symptoms may require surgery.

To verify your symptoms and obtain a conclusive answer to your neck pain concerns, you should schedule an appointment with a physician, particularly if the pain doesn’t go away after a couple of weeks. Additionally, if you notice a more sudden onset of weakness or loss of function in your hand(s),arm(s), or legs, or you develop issues with balance, you should seek medical attention immediately.