Neck Pain : Causes

Definition

Neck pain is a common disease that we often wake up in the morning with or experience at the end of a tiring day at work. It is usually a result of a minor strain or sprain and disappears with over-the-counter painkillers and symptomatic treatment at home. In some cases however, neck pain may be the result of a problem that requires emergency treatment.

The neck is made up of 7 bones called the cervical vertebrae, which constitute the spine in the neck region. The vertebrae protect the spinal cord. The vertebrae are stacked one on top of the other and kept in position by the anterior and posterior ligaments. Between the vertebrae are the intervertebral discs. The discs have a soft center surrounded by a tough fibrous part. The discs act as cushions and prevent friction during movement of the cervical vertebrae. Surrounding the vertebrae are various small as well as big muscles which support the spine and assist in movements.

Causes

Causes of neck pain may be located within the spine or in the ligaments or muscles surrounding the neck.

The parts of the neck that can perceive pain include the periosteum (the cover of the vertebrae), the outer ring of the intervertebral discs, the epidural veins (the veins located outside the covering of the spinal cord) and the posterior longitudinal ligament. Pain may also be caused due to pressure on a nerve. In such cases, the pain may be felt at a distant location along the area of distribution of the nerve. Such pain is called radicular pain.

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