Two Types of Neck Pain
There are two distinct types of cervical neck pain. The first type often involves a dull pain in the neck that radiates down the shoulders and arms. Patients may also notice weakness in specific muscles in the arms. A herniated (bulging) disc in the spine pinching a nerve root in the neck often causes this type of neck pain. Discs are found between each vertebra, or bone, in the spinal column. They serve as “shock absorbers” within the spine and have a gel-like center that makes them flexible, allowing the spine to bend and move. However, because the discs are soft they can also bulge and become misshapen. When this occurs, they can place pressure on the spinal cord or irritate one of the nerves leading from the spinal cord out to the arms and upper torso. If the bulge becomes severe, the disc may herniate and push into the spinal canal. The result can be weakness, tingling, clumsiness and numbness in the arm and hands. Bulging discs can be caused by injuries like whiplash, stress on the spine by overuse, or by arthritis/degeneration in the spine.
The second type of neck pain often isn’t experienced as ‘pain’ by patients at all. It usually involves numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, difficulty walking, loss of pain or temperature sensation in the hands and arms, poor balance and stiffness in the neck. In this case, there is pressure directly on the spinal cord. Because this type of “pain” is not felt in the neck itself, it is easily misdiagnosed.
Poor posture, obesity, stress, bad work, and play habits can contribute to problems with the neck. Several structures such as muscles, nerves, ligaments, and joints could be seriously affected. When the result of an auto accident is whiplash, a bizarre series of dysfunctions can occur. All possibilities are considered from the first visit. Thorough evaluation will be offered as the trouble is isolated and plan of care is discussed.