About Neck Pain
The neck is made up of many different structures. Cervical ligaments (like thick rubber bands) provide stability to the spine. The muscles allow for support and motion. The neck has a significant amount of motion, and supports the weight of the head. However, because it is less protected than the rest of the spine, the neck can be vulnerable to injury and disorders that produce pain and restrict motion.
Pain in the neck can be due to injury, a mechanical or muscular problem, a trapped nerve caused by a bulge in one of the discs between the vertebrae, or from arthritis of the neck.
It can range from very mild discomfort to severe, burning and disabling pain.
Neck pain is a very common condition, and is more frequently seen in women than men. Most people will experience pain in the neck at some point in their life, hence seeking neck pain treatment in Singapore is common.
Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain may be due to soft tissues (muscles, ligaments) or the cervical spine (nerves, discs or facet joints and bones). The most common causes of neck pain are soft tissue abnormalities due to injury or prolonged wear-and-tear. Occasionally, infection or tumours may cause neck pain. In some people, neck problems may be the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders or arms.
Many things can trigger neck pain. These include direct injury, stress, awkward position of neck (repetitive strain) and ergonomic strain.
There are several theories about why so many people suffer from neck pain, but they are not supported by scientific proof. Hence, it has spawned an entire industry of neck pillows, supports, collars and other aids. For some people, no specific reason for their neck pain can be found.
Road traffic accidents involving whiplash injury may result in acute or chronic neck pain that takes several months to improve.
People who are under too much stress and work their “anti-gravity muscles” too hard, suffer from neck pain and tension headaches.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
- Slipped Disc/Prolapsed Disc
- Nerve Impingement/Compression
- Facet Joint Syndrome
- Muscle and Ligamental Pain Syndrome
Non-specific Neck Pain
Many people develop a stiff and painful neck for no obvious reason. It may happen after sitting in a draught (cold wind of aircon) or after a minor twisting injury, for example, while gardening. The underlying cause for this type of neck pain is not fully understood, so it is called “non-specific neck pain”. Having non-specific neck pain does not mean that your neck is damaged, and it often happens in people whose necks would appear completely normal under an X-ray. It is the most common type of neck pain and often disappears after a few days.
Although whiplash can badly damage your neck, the majority of people who suffer these shunt accidents do not have major damage. In most cases, injuries feel better within a few weeks or months. Seat belts and properly-adjusted headrests in cars have significantly reduced the damage from whiplash injuries.
Symptoms Of Neck Pain
Dizziness and blackouts
What Does Neck Pain Feels Like?
- General pain located in the neck area as well as stiffness in the neck muscles.
- The pain may radiate down to the shoulder or between the shoulder blades.
- It may also radiate out into the arm, the hand, or up into the head, causing a one-sided or double-sided headache.
- The muscles in the neck are tense, sore and feel hard to the touch.
- Acute pain can give rise to abnormal neck posture in which the head is forced to turn to one side; this condition is known as torticollis.
- The pain at the base of the skull may be accompanied by a feeling of weakness in the shoulders and arms.
- There may be a prickly or tingling sensation in the arms and fingers.
Diagnosing Neck Pain
Determining the source of the pain is essential to recommend the right method of treatment and rehabilitation.
Your pain specialist will take a complete history of the difficulties you are having with your neck. He or she may ask you about other illnesses, whether you have had any injury to your neck and any complaints you have associated with neck pain. Previous treatment for your neck condition will also be noted. Next, a physical examination may include evaluation of neck motion, neck tenderness, and the function of the nerves and muscles in your arms and legs.
Radiological studies will often be done to allow your doctor to look closely at the structures in your neck. These diagnostic techniques often help the neck pain specialists to determine the cause of neck pain and to prescribe effective treatment.
Patients who require further evaluation may undergo one or more of the following examinations:
1. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) – This imaging study allows an evaluation of the spinal cord and nerve roots.
2. CT (computed tomography) – This specialized X-ray study allows careful evaluation of the bone and spinal canal.
3. Myelogram (injection of a dye or contrast material into the spinal canal) – This specific X-ray study also allows careful evaluation of the spinal canal and nerve roots.
4. EMG (nerve conduction and electromyogram) – This test evaluates nerve and muscle function.
How neck pain is treated depends on what the diagnosis reveals. However, patients can be treated successfully with rest, medication, immobilization, physical therapy, exercise, activity modifications and non-surgical methods which include minimally invasive pain procedures.
Your pain specialist is a medical doctor with extensive training in the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.
When Should You Seek Medical Care?
When the pain is:
- continuous and persistent
- accompanied by pain that radiates down the arms or legs
- accompanied by headaches, numbness, tingling or weakness
- associated with recent trauma.
Minimally Invasive Pain Procedures
Get Your Pain Resolved
Send your enquiries or consult our pain experts today.