Neck pains may seem like a trivial thing, but these pains and its effects are able to stop us dead in our tracks and turn an excellent day into a bad one.
In this crash course, we will discuss Neck Anatomy, Common Conditions, Trigger Points and 3 Simple exercise that can help you to ease the pain. Having a basic understanding of ‘Neck Pains’ will empower you to not be a victim and take a forward step to a pain-free life.
*Disclaimer, this article is for educational purposes and is not ….
The structure of the neck consists of 7 vertebras and 7 intervertebral discs in between them to support and absorb shock. These discs also have a space between them for the spinal nerve to exit from the sides of the spine.
Our supporting muscles in the neck are all attached to the spinal nerve. These ‘attached muscles’ are divided into two groups, the stabilizers, and the prime movers.
Most common neck issues are experienced with either the spine structure or with the supporting muscles.
POSTURE, A MAJOR CAUSE OF NECK PAIN
Most of you who suffer neck pain would not know why you have it. It is usually something that develops over time, without any incident like falls or accidents that cause it. The most probable underlying cause of neck pain is usually a postural one. Two postures that we adopt very often these days are forward head postures and rounded shoulder. The combination of this is called the upper cross syndrome. Prolonged adoption of such postures will cause conditions such as disc prolapse in the future.
Forward head posture
It causes undue stress to the muscles at the back of the neck. They cause those muscles to shorten, be tight, and overworked. Such a situation leads to trigger points to develop in the muscle which may cause you to have radiating pain in the neck to the shoulder or even the head. The forward pull of the head also causes the vertebrae to be put under constant stress which leads to degenerative disc diseases.
It causes your pectoral muscles to be short and tight and the postural muscles of the neck and shoulder to be switched off. Apart from potential shoulder problems, this, in turn, makes it a lot harder for your head to be seated in line with the spine (leading to forwarding head posture). When your shoulders are rounded, your upper trapezius also becomes overloaded with trying to keep your shoulders up and trigger points may develop there which may manifest as neck pain.
The intervertebral disc is a soft structure with a jelly-like nucleus encased in a fibrous outer ring. The integrity of the ring may be compromised by lifting, bending, twisting, and pulling movements. This causes the jelly inside to push out and may even squeeze all the way through causing a bulge. The bulge may put pressure on the exiting nerve root and cause a pinched nerve.
Symptoms that indicate cervical radiculopathy include:
- One-sided neck pain
- Shooting pain radiating from neck to arm and up to the fingers
- Numbness on the same side as pain
- Weakness on the same side as pain
Again, a herniated disc is in itself a separate condition which may cause symptoms without causing a nerve pinch. Symptoms that indicate a disc problem involve pain either bilaterally (across your back) or central in the neck or your pain may switch sides from time to time. Therefore, it is imperative that you get an accurate diagnosis.
Cerviogenic Headaches actually starts in the Neck, Unlike a migraine – which is usually accompanied with symptoms like light sensitivity – A Cervicogenic headache usually only affects a localized area in the back of the head to the area behind the eye. It is usually one-sided, following the side of the neck where there is an issue.
Symptoms that indicate Cerviogenic Headache include:
- Reduced range of motion to the upper neck regionNeck pain or dysfunction
- A forward head posture
- Neck pain or dysfunction
Wryneck is a condition where you develop intense muscle spasm accompanied by a severe neck stiffness which limits your range of movement, usually to one side. This condition is often very sudden in nature and is caused by either a locked facet joint or a disc injury.
Symptoms that indicate Wry Neck include:
- Waking up with a very painful neck
- Severe Neck stiffness
- Loss of movement
Neck stiffness is a typical condition where you feel soreness in the neck and loses some range of movement. A stiff neck in itself is not really a condition. It is usually a response or manifestation to an underlying disorder in the cervical spine. It is also often caused by poor posture and if left alone may be the cause of other cervical conditions in the long run.
Symptoms that indicate Wry Neck include:
- Soreness of neck
- Reduced range of motion
UNDERSTANDING TRIGGER POINTS.
Trigger points are spots on your back that you can easily apply gentle pressure with your fingers to alleviate the pain from your neck. They all feel like small knots inside your muscle
(How to find your trigger points video)
Three simple exercises that you can do now in the comfort of your office space to relief such Neck Pains
1.Stretching neck with Tennis ball
2. Neck Exercise
3. Band Neck stretch
Contributing Factors to Neck Disorders
Here are some things that causes neck pain which you may not be aware of:
- Poor posture – Having good posture means that the weight of your head is distributed evenly and effectively to the spine which means you’re less likely to injure a particular structure in the spine by overloading it. In particular, forward head posture is one the most common posture that can cause neck disorders if not corrected. This is the kind of posture we adopt when using our phones and computers.
- Repetitive activities – Excessive bending, twisting or lifting can increase wear and tear on the spine and lead to neck pain.
- Being overweight – Being heavier means that there will be an increased loading onto your spine which may cause in conditions such as bulging discs.
- Smoking – Smoking has adverse effects on your bone health. Smokers will have less fluid in the spinal discs and less bone density.
- Exercising poorly – Many people try to do too much too quickly when starting an exercise regime leading them to do exercises with improper technique which leads to injury.