Neck pain shouldn’t be ignored

Neck pain shouldn’t be ignored

by Judah Donaldson, APRN, FNP

It is true that neck pain can result from simple things, such as turning the head too quickly, not stretching before a workout, or sleeping in a position that puts strain on the neck muscles.

However, pain that continues beyond a few weeks or is associated with additional symptoms (pain or numbness in the arms, difficulty with range of motion in the neck, etc.) should be evaluated by an orthopedic provider to rule out other causes and determine if treatment is needed.

Your neck is comprised of seven bones or vertebrae (C1-C7), more than twenty muscles, and six major ligaments. There are eight pairs of spinal nerves, as well as intervertebral discs that allow movement of the cervical spine and cushion each vertebra from one another.

Chronic neck pain (typically present for more than three months) may be caused by arthritis in the neck, degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae, narrowing of the spinal canal, muscle strain, inflammation, or past trauma (falls, motor vehicle accident, etc.). It is also possible for age-related changes, former injuries, or simply poor posture to lead to degeneration of the bones or joints of the cervical spine, causing disc herniation or bone spurs to form.

Pressure on the spinal cord from an injury or chronic degeneration in the cervical region can be a serious problem. That’s because virtually all the nerves to the rest of the body must pass through the neck to reach their final destination (arms, chest, abdomen, legs). This can potentially compromise the function of many important organs or cause numbness, pain, or weakness to the area that the nerve supplies.

The Horizon Health orthopedics team can treat acute injury to the neck and evaluate chronic neck pain to ensure longevity and mobility of your cervical spine for many years to come.

Symptoms that you should not ignore:

  1. Pain in one or both arms that radiates from the neck
  2. Numbness in one or both arms
  3. Weakness in one or both arms
  4. New or worsening difficulty with balance or walking
  5. Weakness in one or both legs

Judah Donaldson is a family nurse practitioner who sees patients with orthopedic and spine conditions at the Paris Clinic and Terre Haute Specialty Clinic. He supports the practice of Dr. Harish Kempegowda, orthopedic and spine surgeon.