Neck pain is a common problem and 2 out of 3 of the population gets affected. It is usually not serious and most often eases on its own or with simple treatment. Most often neck pain is the result of staying too long with the neck in one position or a sprain. Very rarely neck pain can be a symptom of a more serious problem.
What are the causes?
Muscle sprains: over use can strain neck muscles.
Worn out joints: there are multiple joints in the neck and they get worn out due to repeated movements. Bone spurs are formed that affect the joint motion and cause pain.
Nerve compression: there is sponge like structure between the bones in the neck called intervertebral discs. These discs can rupture and the central soft part of the disc material, which protrudes, out and compress the nerves and spinal cord.
Injuries: whiplash injury when the neck is thrown too and fro can cause neck pain.
Certain diseases like cancer can result in neck pain
What are the symptoms?
Pain that gets worse by holding the head in one position
Reduced and painful neck movements
When to see a neurosurgeon
Most neck pains subside with simple treatment but immediate care is needed if the neck pain
Is a result of an injury
Persists for several days
Spreads down the arms
Is accompanied with numbness, weakness or tingling
How does one prevent this problem?
Use of good posture
Avoiding tucking the phone between ear and shoulder during talking
Avoiding carrying heavy weights
Sleeping in good position
What are the diagnostic aids?
X-rays show alignment of the bones. Fractures, dislocation sand arthritis can be seen.
Blood tests to rule out infections
Bone scans to find out the bone strength and to rule out osteoporosis
Electrophysiology to document any pressure on the nerves
MRI for delineation of discs, spinal cord, muscles and ligaments