Neck pain can be caused by a number of problems. Irritation of joints, muscles or along nerve pathways in the neck can cause pain in the shoulder, head, arm, and/or hand. It is common to have a headache and tension associated with neck pain. Neck pain can range from minor and ignorable to severe and the worst pain or discomfort someone has experienced.
Here we will talk about some of the causes of neck pain and some of the red flags of neck pain.
What Causes Neck Pain?
An overload, strain or sprain of muscles or joints of the neck is the most common cause of neck pain in day to day life. It can happen due to:
1. Trauma or Sports Injury
Moving the neck suddenly in an unusual way or experiencing a fall or collision. An example of this is whiplash. This occurs when the head and neck suddenly move backward and then forward with force. The soft tissue near the cervical spine can get injured or spasmed. These types of injuries should be assessed by a chiropractor or other medical practitioner so rule out serious injury.
2. Repetitive Use
This can be thought of as moving the head in a continuous or sustained manner to a degree the tissues or structures involved can not tolerate, resulting in tension, inflammation and dysfunction. For example a swimmer only breathing to one side of the body or watching the TV with the head turned to one side.
3. Poor Posture
This should be thought of as sustained unnatural posture for the individual with inadequate variety of movement or tolerance in that posture, similar to a repetitive use injury. For example, if your head is often forward of your spine for long periods of time, then it puts a lot of strain on neck muscles. Without adequate conditioning or rest, this can lead to pain.
Red Flags for Neck Pain?
It is advisable to see a chiropractor or a GP for any neck pain but if you are experiencing any of the symptoms below you should seek immediate medical assessment:
- Severe pain, unlike what you have experienced before
- A severe and new headache, the worst you have experienced
- Tingling, numbness or weakness in arm, shoulder or hands
- Pain associated with some kind of trauma or impact
- Shooting pain into the arm, shoulder or hands
- Difficulty in walking or balancing
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Fever or chills