Throughout the course of any given year, approximately 15% of US adults experience neck pain that lasts about a day. It’s no surprise that neck pain is so common. The cervical spine provides support to the human head which weighs 11 pounds on average. That’s the equivalent of a medium-sized bowling ball!
While neck pain is common, in most cases it goes away in a few days to a month. However, it is important to note that according to the research conducted by the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders, “Most people with neck pain do not experience a complete resolution of symptoms. Between 50% and 85% of those who experience neck pain at some initial point will report neck pain again 1 to 5 years later.”
Keep reading to learn all about neck pain, including common symptoms and causes.
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Depending on the cause of neck pain, each person’s symptoms can vary. We’ve compiled a short list of the most common symptoms our patients experience. Keep in mind, a person may suffer from one, a few, or all of the symptoms listed.
- Sharp pain
- Pain that radiates to the shoulders and arms
- Numbness, tingling, and weakness
As for the onset of these symptoms, they can develop immediately following an injury, at a delayed interval following an injury, slowly over time, or suddenly.
Now that we’ve learned all about neck pain symptoms, let’s move on to common causes. The most common causes of neck pain are the result of a sprain or strain. Sprains and strains occur when ligaments and muscles or tendons, respectively, are overused or overextended.
These injuries can be the result of numerous activities such as an awkward sleeping position, sports injuries, poor posture, whiplash, and more. Neck pain that’s the result of sprains and strains generally goes away in a few days to a month.
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There are other causes that result in chronic neck pain, or pain that lasts more than three months.
Cervical degenerative disc disease
Your spinal structures naturally undergo a fair amount of wear and tear as you age. The discs that cushion your vertebrae lose hydration over time, which can result in friction between your vertebrae.
Cervical herniated disc
When a disc between two vertebrae herniates, the soft inside of the disc pushes through a small tear in the exterior. When it does, it can put pressure on a nearby nerve, resulting in pain.
Cervical osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in a cervical facet joint wears down to the point of bone grinding on bone. That grinding can lead to bone spur growth and inflammation, which can put pressure on surrounding nerves.
Watch as Dr. Longley talks about why treating the cervical spine is one of his interests.