A lot of people don’t regard neck pain to be a serious condition and ignore the pain as long as they can. Your neck has vertebrae that extend from the skull to the upper torso. The muscles, bones, and ligaments jointly support your head and allow it to move.
Unlike the other crucial parts of the body, the neck isn’t as protected as it should be and is always at the risk of an injury. As people constantly move it throughout the day, it is also prone to sprains. Connected areas like back, jaw, head, and shoulders may also get affected.
If you’re experiencing stiffness or pain in the neck, a variety of reasons could be responsible for it. Some of them have been discussed below:
Tension in the Muscles
Sitting in the wrong posture or working without any break can lead to increased tension in the muscles. When this stiffness is accumulated over a long period of time, it causes extreme pain in the neck.
Even minor things like gritting your teeth or reading in the bed can cause a sprain in the neck muscles. Nowadays, the increased use of smartphones has become a leading cause of neck problems as people keep their neck hunched for prolonged hours.
Degeneration or Wear and Tear
Just like any other joints of your body, the neck joints also tend to wear with age, leading to chronic or persistent pain in the neck. Most of the time, the vertebrae and discs become weak and deteriorate as time passes.
Certain medical conditions can also result in bone degeneration and constant pain. Diseases like osteoarthritis cause the cushions between your bones to deteriorate. By keeping a healthy diet and active lifestyle, one can ensure well-being of the bones and muscles.
Injury or Whiplash
The neck is vulnerable to general and car accident injuries, falls, and sports. In such situations, the muscles of the neck are forced to move outside their range. In some cases, it can also result in whiplash, which is a sudden jerk to the neck.
If the cervical vertebrae get fractured, this can also impact the spinal cord adversely. Extensive whiplash treatments and medications are required to treat neck injuries because the pain can get worse when ignored for a long time.
Awkward Sleeping Position
It is quite common to wake up with stiffness in the neck or pain in the back. When you fall asleep without the right support for the head or neck, it increases the likelihood of waking up with neck soreness.
Your sleeping position has a lot to do with the way you feel when you wake up. The number of pillows used and the firmness of the mattress are also causes of discomfort during sleep that results in prolonged pain in different parts of the body, especially neck and back.
Stress and Anxiety
Mental health is directly related to our well-being. It affects our body in numerous ways and has an integral role in weakening our immune system and making us prone to various diseases and other health issues.
Excessive stress may result in the tightening of neck muscles. By holding increased tension in the neck and back, people put a strain on themselves, and this results in chronic or prolonged pain, causing them distress.
Cervical Radiculopathy or Pinched Nerve
Cervical radiculopathy occurs when irritation of the nerves, which originates from the spinal cord, goes down to the arm from the neck. Apart from neck pain, the primary symptoms include numbness, weakness, needles, or pain in the arm.
Its most common causes are neck arthritis and prolapsed disc. One should be wary of the symptoms and special care must be taken in such a situation so that the condition doesn’t worsen.
Torticollis is a condition in which the head becomes twisted to one side and moving it can cause extreme pain. Unfortunately, the cause of torticollis is unknown, but doctors suspect that it arises due to muscle sprain in the neck or a minor ligament issue.
It can occur overnight, implying that the person might be free from all kinds of symptoms prior to going to bed, but may have it in the morning. It is better to get checked at the right time because it can lead to other side effects and infections.
Other Factors Causing Neck Pain
Other diseases or conditions leading to neck pain are:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis can occur in the neck area and cause neck pain, swollen joints, and bone spurs.
- In osteoporosis, bones are weakened that can lead to small fractures. It usually happens in knees or hands but can also occur in the neck.
- Herniated disks or bone spurs can press the nerves branching out from the spinal cord and leading to extreme pain.
- In certain cases, the spinal column is narrowed and causes pressure on the spinal cord or the roots of the nerve. It is known as spinal stenosis and can be the result of prolonged inflammation caused due to arthritis or any other condition.
- Fibromyalgia causes muscle pain throughout the body, especially in the neck and back region.
- People suffering from different infections, bone disorders, or spinal cancer are also prone to extreme pain in the neck.
Given that your neck is a very sensitive area of the body, special care and attention should be provided to it. There are multiple ways to get rid of neck pain, and one can start by taking medicines or massaging and manipulating the painful area.
Sleep in a position that supports the neck, and carry out such exercises that can help in making the neck strong. Ice and heat treatments are also effective in combating pain and should be used according to the underlying condition that is causing pain.
It is better to receive medical attention if the pain persists for a long time. Addressing the problem at the right time can save you from dire consequences in the future.