Depending on the extent of the damage, symptoms of a neck strain or sprain can range from mild discomfort to painful muscle spasms. See Neck Strain: Causes and Remedies. A neck strain is not a serious injury; but the resulting pain can be severe. Watch: Neck Strains and Sprains Video. There are numerous soft tissues including muscles, tendons, and ligaments that attach in and around your cervical spine neck.
Written by Jason M. The cervical region is the most flexible region of the spine, followed by the lumbar region and the thoracic region. Is the surgery safe? Irritation of the spinal cord can cause pain into the legs and other areas below the neck. Cervical discs absorb shock iBg the bones. Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness.
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Degenerative neck conditions affect the cervical vertebrae — the seven vertebrae that form the upper part of your spine, between your skull and chest.
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The neck—or cervical spine—is a coordinated network of nerves, bones, joints, and muscles directed by the brain and the spinal cord. It is designed for strength, stability, and nerve communication. See Spinal Cord Anatomy in the Neck. Learn about the various issues and conditions that can cause acute and chronic neck pain.
Watch: Neck Pain Causes Video. Commonly, there are a number of problems that cause pain in the neck. Additionally, irritation along the nerve pathways can cause pain into the shoulder, head, arm, and hand.
Irritation of the spinal cord can cause pain into the legs and other areas below the neck. See Types of Neck Pain. Most instances of neck pain will go away within a few days or weeks, but pain that persists for months could signal an underlying medical cause that needs to be addressed—in some instances early intervention may be necessary for the best results. In some cases, other symptoms associated with the neck pain are even more problematic, such as:.
Neck pain might be minor and easily ignored, or it can be excruciating to the point where it interferes with important daily activities, such as sleep. The pain might be short-lived, come and go, or become constant. While not common, neck pain can also be a signal of a serious underlying medical issue, such as meningitis , or cancer.
Cervical spine problems can be accelerated by an injury, such as strain or sprain. Watch: Neck Strains and Sprains Video. The neck, or cervical spine, has the important job of providing support and mobility for the head, which can weigh about 11 pounds—the approximate weight of a medium bowling ball. The cervical spine begins at the base of the skull and through a series of seven vertebral segments, named C1 though C7, connects to the thoracic, or chest, region of the spine, at the C7-T1 level.
See Cervical Spine Anatomy. With the exception of the top level of the cervical spine, which primarily provides rotation for the skull, most levels of the cervical spine can be described as follows:. Most problems with the cervical spine develop over time, but they can also be caused or accelerated by an injury. A few examples would be if a disc degenerated and pushed into a nerve, or similarly if bone spurs grew on facet joints to the point that they encroached on a nerve.
Neck pain is common among adults, but it can occur at any age. Neck pain can develop suddenly, such as from an injury, or it may develop slowly over time, such as from years of poor posture or wear and tear. The pain can usually be alleviated with self-care, such as rest, icing the area, or improving posture. But sometimes nonsurgical medical treatments are needed, such as medication or physical therapy. If nonsurgical treatments are not helping, surgical options may be considered.
A doctor should be consulted if pain persists or continues to interfere with routine activities, such as sleeping through the night.
See Pillows for Neck Pain. Some symptoms associated with neck pain could indicate the health of a nerve root or the spinal cord is at risk, or perhaps there is an underlying disease or infection. These symptoms can include radiating pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness into the shoulders, arm, or hands; neurological problems with balance, walking, coordination, or bladder and bowel control; fever or chills; and other troublesome symptoms.
In addition, severe neck pain from a trauma, such as a car crash or falling down steps, needs emergency care. Before transporting a person in that situation, the neck should be immobilized by a trained professional to reduce the risk for paralysis and other complications.
Common Causes of Neck Pain. Cervical Radiculopathy Interactive Video. What Causes Neck and Shoulder Pain? Cervical Herniated Disc Video. Little-Known Causes of Neck Pain. Peer Reviewed. Severe headache or migraine, low back pain, and neck pain among adults age 18 and over, by selected characteristics: United States, selected years Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Published Accessed June 20, Next Page: Neck Pain Symptoms. Editor's Top Picks. Health Information Sponsored.
Create new account. The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. Cancer, cysts, abscesses, benign tumors, and other medical issues can also cause chin lumps. I am obviously concerned about this. When to see a doctor. I've been ill for a year and half. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action.
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Neck Pain, Spine Surgery & Neck Conditions | Cleveland Clinic
Spinal anatomy is a remarkable combination of strong bones, flexible ligaments and tendons, large muscles and highly sensitive nerves. It is designed to be incredibly strong, protecting the highly sensitive nerve roots, yet highly flexible, providing for mobility on many different planes.
The spine is divided into four regions: the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, and sacral region. Watch: Spine Anatomy Overview Video. Most of us take this juxtaposition of strength, structure and flexibility for granted in our everyday lives—until something goes wrong. Once we have back pain, we're driven to know what's wrong and what it will take to relieve the pain and prevent a recurrence.
For example:. For anyone with a spine condition, understanding spinal anatomy is a good way to better inform and evaluate diagnostic and treatment options. The cervical region is the most flexible region of the spine, followed by the lumbar region and the thoracic region. The cervical spine neck Cervical Spine Anatomy Video The neck supports the weight of the head and protects the nerves that run from the brain to the rest of the body.
This section of the spine has seven vertebral bodies bones that get smaller as they get closer to the base of the skull. See Cervical Spine Anatomy. See Neck Strain: Causes and Remedies. With neck pain that lasts longer than two weeks to three months, or with mainly arm pain, numbness or tingling, there is often a specific anatomic problem.
For example, pain that radiates down the arm, and possibly into the hands and fingers, is usually caused by a cervical herniated disc or foraminal stenosis pinching a nerve in the neck. See Understanding Hand Pain and Numbness. The thoracic spine upper back The 12 vertebral bodies in the upper back make up the thoracic spine. The firm attachment of the rib cage at each level of the thoracic spine provides stability and structural support to the upper back and allows very little motion.
The thoracic spine is basically a strong cage and it is designed to protect the vital organs of the heart and lungs. The upper back is not designed for motion, so there is not much wear and tear or injury in this region of the spine.
However, irritation of the large back and shoulder muscles or joint dysfunction in the upper back can produce very noticeable back pain. While less common, other issues such as a thoracic herniated disc are also possible. The lumbar spine lower back The lower back has a lot more motion than the thoracic spine and carries the weight of the torso, which makes it more prone to injury.
See Lumbar Spine Anatomy and Pain. The vast majority of episodes of lower back pain are caused by muscle strain. While a muscle strain doesn't sound like a serious injury, it can lead to issues in the lower back can cause severe pain. The good news is that soft tissues have a good blood supply, which brings nutrients to the injured area, facilitates the healing process and often provides effective relief of the back pain.
The sacral region bottom of the spine Below the lumbar spine is a bone called the sacrum, which makes up the back part of the pelvis. This bone is shaped like a triangle that fits between the two halves of the pelvis, connecting the spine to the lower half of the body. See Sacrum Sacral Region. The sacrum is connected to part of the pelvis the iliac bones by the sacroiliac joints.
Pain in the sacrum is often called sacroiliac joint dysfunction , and is more common in women than men. The coccyx—or the tailbone—is in the sacral region at the very bottom of the spine. Tailbone pain is called coccydynia , which is more common in women than men. Treatment Options for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction. Coccydynia Tailbone Pain Video. Sciatic Nerve Anatomy Video. Getting an Accurate Back Pain Diagnosis.
By Thomas Scioscia, MD. Peer Reviewed. Cervical Spine Anatomy Video. Lumbar Spine Anatomy Video. Lower Back Strain Video. Next Page: Vertebrae in the Vertebral Column. Editor's Top Picks. Health Information Sponsored.