The neck is located between the base of the skull and the upper back known as the thoracic spine. The neck entails 7 vertebral segments which surrounds the spinal cord.
There are discs present between these vertebrae.
The role of the cervical spine:
It protects the spinal cord. The spinal cord are nerves from the brain that runs through the back until the lumbar spine (lower back). The function of the spinal cord is to relay messages from the brain to the body.
Allows blood to flow to the brain
The cervical spine provides a pathway for the blood to travel through the brain via vertebral arteries. The cervical spine contains vertebral openings. No other part of the spine contains these openings.
The cervical spine supports the head and the various movements of the head.
Causes of the Neck Pain
This is a common problem and many get better after several days or weeks.
Amongst the causes are the following:
- Sleeping in an awkward position - This leads to injuring the neck muscles causing the neck to twist. This is known as acute torticollis. It normally takes a week to get better.
- Bad posture for a long period of time
- Accidents – Vigorous movement of head can overstretch and damage tendons and ligaments in the neck. This is known as Whiplash. Amongst the symptoms of whiplash is headaches and painful neck movements.
- Age – Older people are at risk of wear and tear in the bones and joints. It is a form of arthritis and is known as Cervical Spondylosis. Other symptoms include neck stiffness, squashed nerves, numbness and pins and needles.
- History of cancer or conditions that weaken your immune system, such as HIV.
Physical examination during rest and motion
Scan – CAT,MRI, myelogram
Electrical tests such as electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity test (NCV).
This is dependent on the cause. The fundamental manner is to avoid neck injury.
- Relaxation techniques - ease tension of neck.
- Good posture - sitting and standing especially when using the laptop - take regular breaks.
- Neck exercises - to strengthen neck muscles and movement.
- Hot water bottle/heat pack – lowers pain, muscle spasm.
- Cold packs – some prefer this and is believed for better relief.
- Physical massage
- Local injections – cortisone, anaesthetics.
- Medications – topical pain-relief patches, muscle relaxants, Analgesics (painkillers) - paracetamol, ibuprofen or combination of both to control pain.
- Low pillow
- Sports -ensure appropriate equipment is used and exercises conducted to strengthen the neck.