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Neck Pain - Types & Causes

Human necks are made up of vertebrae - extending from your skull to the upper torso. The vertebrae are set on top of the cervical disc at their ending point - absorbing the shock between your bones. These bones, muscles, and ligaments, forming your neck support your head in place and controlling the range of motion of your head. Any inflammation, abnormality, or injury can cause neck stiffness and pain.


Neck stiffness and neck pain are common and often caused due to overuse of muscles or poor posture. Moreover, neck pain is caused due to an accidental fall, whiplash, or contact sport. 


More than half of neck pain issues are not signs of any underlying danger, and can quickly be relieved in days. However, there are times when your neck pain is related to severe injuries or illnesses that require proper care and treatment. 


Types of Neck Pains

Neck pain ranges from minor - something that can easily be ignored to chronic - something that interferes with your daily activities. These neck pains can interfere with your ability to dress, sleep, or concentrate. Also, neck pain can often lead to a stiff neck and reduce your range of motion. Here is how various types of neck pains are categorized. 


The duration of neck pain is commonly classified as follows:


  • Acute Neck Pain - Commonly lasts for about four weeks.
  • Subacute Neck Pain - Commonly lasts from four to twelve weeks.
  • Chronic Neck Pain - Commonly lasts three or more months.


At times, neck pain is sharp and located in a single spot that might feel less intense but can quickly spread across a large area of your neck. Moreover, there are times when the neck pain travels to your head and adds to your headache. On the other hand, neck pain can even be accompanied by a muscle spasm in the neck, around the shoulder blade, or upper back. However, the least common one is shocking neck pain or tingling running through your shoulders, arm, or/and hands.


Causes of Neck Pain

There are endless causes of neck pain and stiffness, as it can easily be triggered at any point. Some causes of neck pain are associated with: 


Muscle Tension & Strain - Caused due to poor posture, working long hours or a desk - without changing your position, sleeping in a horrible position, and jerking your neck. 


Injury - Your neck is vulnerable to injuries - especially during a fall, accident, and while playing sports, which forces your muscle and ligaments to move outside their comfort zone. 


Heart Attack - Another cause of excruciating neck pain is a heart attack, which is often associated with shortness of breath, sweating, vomiting, nausea, jaw, or arm pain. If your neck hurts, and you feel any other symptom of a heart attack, call an ambulance. 


Meningitis - An inflammation caused in the thin tissue surrounding your spinal cord and brain. Along with a stiff neck, you will commonly have a fever and headache. Keep in mind that meningitis can be fatal, and you must call an ambulance as soon as you feel it coming on.


When Should You See A Doctor

If your neck pain lasts longer than a week and comes with any one or more of the following: 


  • Fever
  • Swollen Glands
  • Headache
  • Severe Neck Pain - Without Apparent Cause
  • Lump in Neck
  • Nausea
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Weakness
  • Pain moving through your arms or legs
  • Inability to move your hands or arms
  • Bladder or bowel dysfunction
  • Unable to touch your chin to your chest



Yours in self-care,

Adrian Wilk

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