Pain in the Neck Arthritis
Why Do I Have Neck Pain?
You could blame that neck pain you've been experiencing on several things: The way you sit at your computer, the car accident you got into a few days ago, a herniated disk, even arthritis.
By Krisha McCoy
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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Many injuries and ailments can literally be a pain in the neck. Neck pain is common, and it's estimated two-thirds of American adults have experienced neck pain at some point.
Because your neck connects your spine with your skull, it is particularly vulnerable to certain stresses, injuries, infections, and conditions that can cause you to feel neck pain and discomfort.
Neck Pain: Posture
Poor posture can cause misalignment of your spine and result in neck pain. When your neck is in an awkward position for an extended period of time — when you are reading in bed, sleeping on stiff pillows, sitting in front of a computer, carrying a shoulder bag — it can strain your neck and cause pain. Neck pain that results from poor posture tends to show up as aches and soreness in the muscles of your neck and arms.
Neck Pain: Injuries
Certain injuries can result in neck pain. A "burner" or "stinger" is a minor injury to the nerves between your neck and shoulder that often occurs during contact sports. Spinal cord injuries may also manifest as neck pain. These may result in pain and numbness in your neck, shoulder, arms, and legs. Such injuries should be evaluated by your doctor.
You could experience whiplash, which occurs when your neck is violently moved back and forth during an automobile accident, for example. Inflammation caused by whiplash can cause prolonged pain, weakness, and limited function in your neck.
And then there are muscle spasms. These may gradually develop in the minutes or hours after an injury. The major symptom of a muscle spasm in your neck is neck pain that comes on slowly.
Neck Pain: A Spinal Connection
A pinched nerve in your neck, also called radiculopathy, usually results from a herniated disk. If you have radiculopathy, you will likely have throbbing pain or numbness that radiates from your neck down into your arm.
Spinal stenosis also could make your neck hurt. Spinal stenosis is characterized by narrow nerve openings around the spinal cord or other nerve roots. Its symptoms are similar to those of a pinched nerve, with pain that can radiate into the arms and cause decreased muscle size over time.
In some cases, a bone or spinal-cord tumor can result in unexplained neck pain.
Neck Pain: Other Sources
- Infections.A person who has a viral infection or a more serious infection around the brain, known as meningitis, may have stiffness in the neck.
- TMJ disorders.Temporomandibular joint disorders occur when the joint that connects your jaw and skull is strained due to genetics, teeth grinding, jaw clenching, or even gum chewing. Since this joint is connected with the neck, TMJ disorders can result in neck pain.
- Arthritis.In osteoarthritis, inflammation of your joints due to wear and tear can cause neck stiffness and limit range of motion. Rheumatoid arthritis, another serious disease that causes inflammation of the joints, can also make your neck stiff and cause pain.
Neck Pain: Getting Help
Because there are some serious conditions and injuries that can result in neck pain, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor if you have pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, or other neck symptoms in that aren't going away. With the right diagnosis and treatment, you may be able to get rid of that pain in the neck once and for all.
Video: Physio Neck Exercises Stretch & Relieve Routine
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