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Neck Pain


The neck (cervical spine) is composed of vertebrae that begin in the upper torso and end at the base of the skull. The bony vertebrae along with the ligaments (which are comparable to thick rubber bands) provide stability to the spine. The muscles allow for support and motion. The neck has a significant amount of motion and supports the weight of the head. However, because it is less protected than the rest of the spine, the neck can be vulnerable to injury and disorders that produce pain and restrict motion. For many people, neck pain is a temporary condition that disappears with time. Others need medical diagnosis and treatment to relieve their symptoms.

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Neck pain may result from abnormalities in the soft tissues—the muscles, ligaments, and nerves—as well as in bones and joints of the spine. The most common causes of neck pain are soft-tissue abnormalities due to injury or prolonged wear and tear. In rare instances, infection or tumors may cause neck pain. In some people, neck problems may be the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders, or arms.


Inflammatory Diseases


Rheumatoid arthritis can cause destruction of the joints of the neck. Rheumatoid arthritis typically occurs in the upper neck area.


Cervical Disk Degeneration


The disc acts as a shock absorber between the bones in the neck. In cervical disk degeneration (which typically occurs in people age 40 years and older), the normal gelatin-like center of the disc degenerates and the space between the vertebrae narrows. As the disc space narrows, added stress is applied to the joints of the spine causing degenerative disease. The cervical disk may also protrude and put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots when the rim of the disc weakens. This is known as a herniated cervical disc.




Motor vehicle or diving accidents, contact sports, and falls may result in neck injury. A “rear end” automobile collision may result in hyperextension, a backward motion of the neck beyond normal limits, or hyperflexion, a forward motion of the neck beyond normal limits. The most common neck injuries involve the soft tissues: the muscles and ligaments. Severe neck injuries with a fracture or dislocation of the neck may damage the spinal cord and cause paralysis.


Other Causes


  • Tumors, infections, or congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae.
  • Repeated stress injury
  • Mechanical/ Postural cause
  • If severe neck pain occurs following an injury (motor vehicle accident, diving accident, or fall), a trained professional, such as a paramedic, should immobilize the patient to avoid the risk of further injury and possible paralysis. Medical care should be sought immediately.
  • Immediate medical care should also be sought when an injury causes pain in the neck that radiates down the arms and legs.
  • Radiating pain or numbness in your arms or legs causing weakness in the arms or legs without significant neck pain should also be evaluated.


If there has not been an injury, you should seek medical care when neck pain is:


  • continuous and persistent
  • severe
  • Accompanied by pain that radiates down the arms or legs
  • Accompanied by headaches, numbness, tingling, or weakness




Determining the source of the pain is essential to recommend the appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. Therefore, a comprehensive examination is required to determine the cause of neck pain.


Doctor and physiotherapist at A+OSM Center will take a complete history of the difficulties you are having with your neck. He or she may ask you about other illnesses, any injury that occurred to your neck, and any complaints you have associated with neck pain. Previous treatment for your neck condition will also be noted.


Doctor will also perform a physical examination. This examination may include evaluation of neck motion, neck tenderness, and the function of the nerves and muscles in your arms and legs.


X-rays often will be obtained to allow doctor and physiotherapist A+OSM Center to look closely at the bones in your neck. This simple diagnostic imaging study (radiography) often helps to determine the cause of neck pain and to prescribe effective treatment.


Patients who require further evaluation may undergo one or more of the following examinations:


  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This non x-ray study allows an evaluation of the spinal cord and nerve roots.
  • CT (computed tomography). This specialized x-ray study allows careful evaluation of the bone and spinal canal.
  • Myelography (injection of a dye or contrast material into the spinal canal). This specific x-ray study also allows careful evaluation of the spinal canal and nerve roots.
  • EMG (electromyography). This test evaluates nerve and muscle function. Doctor may supplement your evaluation with blood tests, and, if necessary.


How neck pain is treated depends on the diagnosis. However, most patients are treated successfully with rest, medication, immobilization, physical therapy, exercise, activity modifications, or a combination of these methods.


If medication is prescribed to reduce pain, it should be used only as directed and should not be taken for extended periods of time. In addition, if doctor prescribes rest, it is vital that you follow these instructions carefully.


When neck pain persists or is chronic, your doctor A+OSM Center may recommend a rehabilitation program that includes an exercise program ,manual and electrol therapy to help relieve your pain and prevent it from coming back.


Very few patients require surgery to relieve neck pain. For most patients, a combination of rest, medication, and physical therapy will relieve neck pain. Surgery may be necessary to reduce pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root when pain is caused by a herniated disk or bony narrowing of the spinal canal or after injury.


Neck Sprain


The seven bones of the spinal column in the neck (cervical vertebrae) are connected to each other by ligaments–strong bands of tissue that act like thick rubber bands. A sprain (stretch) or tear can occur in one or more of these ligaments when a sudden movement, such as a motor vehicle accident or a hard fall, causes the neck to extend to an extreme position.

  • Pain, especially in the back of the neck, that worsens with movement
  • Pain that peaks a day or so after the injury, instead of immediately
  • Muscle spasms and pain in the upper shoulder
  • Headache in the back of the head
  • Increased irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating
  • Numbness in the arm or hand
  • Neck stiffness or decreased range of motion (side to side, up and down, circular)
  • Tingling or weakness in the arms




To diagnosis a neck sprain, doctor at A+OSM Center will perform a comprehensive physical examination. During the physical examination, the doctor will ask you how the injury occurred, measure the range of motion of your neck, and check for any point tenderness.


Radiographs (X-rays) may be requested so the doctor can look closely at the bones in your neck. This evaluation will help the doctor rule out or identify other sources of neck pain, such as spinal fractures, dislocations, arthritis, and other serious conditions.




Neck sprains, like other sprains, will usually heal gradually, given time and appropriate treatment. You may have to wear a soft collar (not always necessary) around your neck to help support the head and relieve pressure on the ligaments so they have time to heal.


You can apply an ice pack for 15 to 30 minutes at a time, several times a day for the first 2 or 3 days after the injury. This will help reduce inflammation and discomfort. Although heat, particularly moist heat, can help loosen cramped muscles, it should not be applied too quickly. Other treatment options include:


  • Physiotherapy
  • Massaging the tender area
  • Ultrasound
  • Isometric exercise


Most symptoms of neck sprain will go away in 4 to 6 weeks. However, severe injuries, may take longer to heal completely.