The cervical spine is a complex structure of bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves in the neck area. It originates at the base of the skull and forms the top of the spinal column as seven vertebrae – C1 through C7 – providing strength, stability, mobility, and nerve communication.
Cervical spine problems usually develop over time, but accidents or injuries can cause or aggravate them. Most of these cause pain in the neck, and this pain can radiate to other parts of the body.
Neck pain can interfere with daily functions. If the pain doesn’t go away, it’s important to see a doctor, because it may be signaling a more serious underlying condition such as meningitis or cancer.
What Causes Pain in the Neck?
Some of the most common cervical conditions that can result in neck pain are the following:
If the cervical spine becomes infected, such as from meningitis, the inflammation from the infection can cause neck pain.
If a tumor develops in the cervical spine, it can press against a nerve. These types of tumors are usually metastatic cancer that has spread from cancer originating in another part of the body.
This form of progressive arthritis of the spine can cause widespread inflammation, pain, and stiffness throughout the back and neck area.
This condition occurs when one vertebra slips over and onto the one below it. This can occur due to a fracture in the vertebra, disc degeneration, or pressure due to a growth spurt in children.
Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease
Cervical discs are natural shock absorbers for the neck. They both stabilize the neck and allow it to turn and bend smoothly from side to side and forward to back. Over time, these discs can become worn and can start to degenerate. They can lose hydration, size, and the ability to cushion the adjacent vertebrae. This can cause herniated discs, pinched nerves, bone spurs, or changes in the facet joints. The result is painful irritation of cervical nerves.
Facet Joint Pain
Facet joints connect the vertebrae all along the spine. The nerves exit your spinal cord via facet joints in order to provide feeling from the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to the peripheral nervous system (nerves in the rest of the body). Over time, these joints can become inflamed, which can cause pain and muscle spasms.
When the cartilage in a cervical facet joint erodes and grinds bone against bone, this can lead to cervical osteoarthritis, also known as cervical spondylosis. Osteoarthritis can cause the discs to change, the ligaments to thicken and harden, and bone spurs to grow. This exerts excess pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves.
Orthopedic Doctors in Upstate New York
If you or a loved one suffers from severe, unexplained, or sustained neck pain or numbness and tingling, call us today at North Country Orthopaedic Group at (315) 782-1650 or go online to request an appointment.
Our skilled orthopedic practitioners are experts in bone-related and musculoskeletal conditions. We know what treatments to offer and what exercises and types of therapy can help you with your aches and pains. Contact us today so we can help you feel better very soon.