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Four Common Neck Problems

neck problems

By Abbey Fecher, DPT

Pain in the neck is a common neck problem complaint we hear in physical therapy. As a society, our posture has continued to decline as the use of phones and computers has increased. Poor posture can lead to many neck injuries. The good news is physical therapy can address many of these ‘pain in the neck’ problems.

Cervical radiculopathy is a term that means radiating pain down into your arms/hands or your upper back. It’s caused by nerve compression in the neck. Most people with this experience numbness down into their hand or posterior shoulder pain when they move their neck into a certain position. These symptoms can often be alleviated by light traction of the neck/spine or changing your posture. Cervical radiculopathy is typically caused by disc pathology in the cervical spine that causes nerve root compression.

Cervical arthritis and stenosis is a condition that frequently happens as we age. It can be accelerated when there is a previous injury or prolonged poor posture. Arthritic changes occur within the facet joints of the neck, which need to be able to slide and glide so there is full cervical range of motion. The facet joints are what allow the cervical vertebrae to be stacked on top of each other and enable us to move our heads. Stenosis is a medical term that means the narrowing of the small holes through which the cervical spinal nerve roots exit. The narrowing of the spine causes nerve compression and pain. Bone spurs, scar tissue, inflammation, or disc material from an old disc herniation can all cause this.

Whiplash injuries frequently happen due to a car crash. However, you can also get   whiplash from a fall or a concussion. When you have whiplash, the muscles and ligament in the neck are sprained resulting in the spine becoming more unstable. You’ll often experience sudden pain in your neck and muscle  spasming, making any active motion of the head difficult and painful. You may also experience a sensation like your head is heavy and you need to lie down to alleviate pain. Whiplash pain can also cause headaches or radiating pain into the shoulder blades and upper back.

Cervical instability is a term we use to describe excessive motion of the neck and muscle weakness, which results in poor spinal mechanics and pain. If you have cervical instability, you’re at risk for overuse injuries, headaches and chronic neck pain due to inflammation. It’s common to have shearing in the spine. This is when several of the vertebrae move too much while others don’t move enough. It causes overuse and inflammation. Symptoms of cervical instability typically include headaches, a feeling that your head is too heavy, pressure through the neck, difficulty sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time, and a constant tight and spasming muscles.

If you’re dealing with any kind of neck pain or discomfort, call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center at 703-450-4300 TODAY and start handing that pain.

For more information on common causes of neck pain and a self-assessment you can try, CLICK THE LINK: https://loudounsportstherapy.com/video/self-assessment-neck-problems