The neck is a complex structure comprising bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, nerves and other structures An injury to any of these components can cause neck pain. Car accidents, sports injuries and slip-and-fall accidents are common causes of neck pain. Whiplash, chronic stress, poor posture and sleeping without proper support can also cause pain to occur. The cervical spine passes through the spine, so any problem affecting the nerves in this portion of the spine also can cause pain. In fact, cervical radiculopathy is a common cause of pain that originates in the neck and radiates into the shoulders, upper back, and arms. Degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis or cervical spinal stenosis have also been found to cause neck pain.
Cervical spine stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that causes increased compression on the nerves, resulting in local pain as well as radiating symptoms of pain, numbness, and weakness that can extend into the arms and hands. Stenosis often occurs when an overgrowth of bony or soft tissues press against the nerves, but it can also be caused by injuries, tumors or thickened ligaments.
Cervical radiculopathy is a painful condition that develops when nerves in the neck become compressed where they exit the spine, usually as a result of pressure from a herniated disc. Like cervical spinal stenosis, cervical radiculopathy can cause pain and other symptoms that radiate into the shoulders and arms.
Neck pain usually can be treated with conservative or minimally-invasive approaches, including injections to block pain signals, to reduce irritation and inflammation. In some cases, surgery may be needed to perform repairs or to widen the spaces around the nerves so compression is relieved. Prior to treatment, a thorough examination including diagnostic imaging will be performed to determine the specific cause of pain so the most appropriate treatment can be provided.
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