Cervical spine is located mostly behind the neck. As such neck pain is a common medical condition and could be caused by several different causes. There could be various pathologies affecting the cervical spine.
This would include degenerative changes in the cervical spine, herniation or prolapse of the inter vertebral disc, injury to the cervical spine, ankylosing spondylitis etc.
Causes Of Cervical Spine Pain
Ankylosing spondylitis could occur in cervical spine. In ankylosing spondylitis again pain and difficulty in moving the spine is the prominent symptom. As the disease advances, there could be immobility of the spine as the spine fuses with one another. Those with ankylosing spondylitis are more prone to develop fractures of cervical spine.
Degenerative Changes In The Cervical Spine
Degenerative changes can occur in the cervical spine due to wear and tear changes associated with aging. Injury could also cause degenerative changes. There may be osteophyte formation along the margins of the vertebrae. In fact degenerative changes are the most common cause for neck pain or cervical spine pain. It could cause chronic pain.
There may be bouts of acute pain after a period of severe activity putting stress on the cervical spine. There could also be compression of a nerve at the site resulting in pain along the nerve route and numbness as well. The pain is usually precipitated after an activity that put stress on the cervical spine such as lifting heavy weights. The person usually finds relief with heat compresses and rest. The pain later could become chronic later on as the disease progresses. Wearing of a cervical collar offers some support to the spine.
Inter Vertebral Disc Prolapse
There could be herniation of inter vertebral disc in the cervical spine. The herniation occurs when the outer ring of the inter vertebral disc has a tear and the inner portion bulges out. The herniation most always occur after an injury. An acute injury, where there is only a small tear usually heals on its own. However, a larger injury may require surgical intervention.
Pain is the most prominent symptom of inter vertebral disc prolapse. The pain usually begins after an activity or an injury that puts stress on the disc. Lifting is usually the most common cause for precipitating the pain associated with inter vertebral disc prolapse. Like cervical spondylosis, if there is involvement of a nerve root, there could be numbness along its course, most commonly located in the hands. MRI scanning gives conclusive proofs for this medical condition. Wearing of a cervical collar provides support to the discs.
Injury To The Cervical Spine
Injury to the cervical spine is another common cause for cervical pain. The injury could cause wear and tear to the spine, it could also cause a tear in the outer ring of the inter vertebral disc. This would in turn result in cervical spondylosis or inter vertebral disc prolapse. Injury could occur due to direct trauma to the cervical spine. It could also be due to a force that cause jerking to the spine. The symptoms depend on the severity of the injury. Fracture of the cervical spine could even result in paraplegia or quadriplegia.