Neck Pain


Neck pain and symptoms caused by a cervical (neck) spine disorder are a very common problem for many adult Americans. The cervical spine is composed of many different anatomic structures, including muscles, bones, ligaments, and joints. Each of these structures has nerve endings that can detect painful problems when they occur. The different parts of the cervical spine are normally well balanced and able to handle all of the movements, stresses, and strains of the body gracefully. However, when the different parts of the cervical spine are injured or start to wear out, your neck can be a significant source of pain and discomfort.

Studies show that approximately fifty percent of the population has evidence of degenerative changes in their cervical spine by the age of fifty. These changes happen because the discs that act as shock absorbers between the vertebral bodies of the cervical spine wear out as we grow older. As the intervertebral discs wear out, they begin to collapse, or herniate, and become less flexible. The common causes of neck pain and cervical disorders include arthritis, injuries, and trauma. In some situations neck pain can also be a warning sign of something more serious such as spinal cord compression, a tumor or spinal infection.

Any patient suffering from neck, shoulder, head or arm pain should be examined by a doctor in order to determine where the pain originates and what is causing the pain. The tissues involved in producing the pain must also be identified, and how they are being irritated must also be understood. The history of the pain and any activities that may have triggered it are also important factors in diagnosis and treatment. Impairment of movement in any part of the cervical spine can be responsible for pain, discomfort, and disability.

Accurate evaluation of pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, or head requires knowledge of functional anatomy. If you are suffering from neck pain or pain you believe may be caused by a cervical spine disorder you should seek the medical advice of a physician.

Published: February 23, 2007
Updated: March 20, 2007