The cervical spine is designed to handle a great deal of stress, however there a number of traumatic injuries and degenerative changes that can occur to the motion segments of the cervical spine that can result in neck pain and arm pain.
Symptoms of neck injury or degeneration changes to the cervical spine include neck pain, muscle spasms to the neck area or surrounding areas to include the shoulders and upper back, tightness, grinding sensations, arm pain tingling, numbness and muscle weakness.
The cervical spine is made up of seven vertebral motion segments. A motion segment is made up of two anterior cervical bones (vertebral body) separated with a cervical disc and two posteriorly two cervical facet joints.
These bony vertebral bodies and cervical facet joints are supported and constrained by muscles and ligaments. The anterior and posterior bony structures (vertebral bodies and cervical facet joints) house and protect the spinal cord and exiting nerve roots which escape through holes called foramen. All of these structures are richly supplied with blood vessels and small nerves and can be a source of pain.
When you feel pain it is a reaction to signals transmitted from these structures through nerves to the brain. The brain perceives these signals as pain.
What’s causing my neck pain?
Some common conditions that can cause neck pain include:
When should I see my doctor?
If you are experiencing neck pain or arm pain, talk to your doctor about appropriate treatment options. Identifying the cause of your neck pain ensures you receive the proper treatment.
Consult a physician immediately if you:
- Are experiencing neck pain as a result of a physical trauma involving your spine, such as a fall or car accident
- Are experiencing numbness, weakness or difficulty moving your extremities
- Experience bladder control loss or impairment
- Having severe pain
If you are experiencing neck pain, talk to your doctor about identifying the cause of your neck pain. Proper diagnosis by your doctor will ensure the correct treatment plan.
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