The cervical spine is an intricate structure that comprises seven vertebrae with intervertebral discs between them, the spinal cord, joints, eight nerve roots, 32 muscles, and ligaments. Each of the nerve roots, which branch from the spinal cord, relay nerve impulses between the brain, shoulders, arms, and chest. In addition to that, the joints, muscles, and ligaments enable movement and also serve to provide stability to this structure. Moving on from the anatomy - the cervical spine supports the head and facilitates its movement in a number of directions. In fact, it may be interesting to note that no other part of the spine offers quite as much mobility as the cervical spine. However, this combination of intricacy and movement, makes the neck quite prone to pain.
After the anatomy of the cervical spine, the next step in battling neck is understanding what causes it. Unfortunately, a myriad of reasons can lead you to experience pain in the neck.
- Ageing: The process of growing old can affect the human body in varied ways and lead to degenerative diseases like degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis. The degenerative disc disease causes the intervertebral discs to become dehydrated, consequently decreasing its elasticity and height. Eventually, it may lead the disc to bulge or herniate which causes pain, numbness, etc. Spinal stenosis, on the other hand, causes the foramen, an opening in the bone, to become narrower. This can lead to the possible compression of nerve roots or them becoming trapped, leaving them unable to work as usual. Spinal stenosis can cause pain in the neck, shoulder, and arm and also numbness. Osteoarthritis causes progressive decay of the cartilage that leads the body to form osteophytes that affect movement of the joint.
- Accidents: Injuries, such as whiplash, sustained during a myriad form of accidents may manifest as severe neck pain. Whiplash, often endured during an automobile accident, happens when the head and neck are all of a sudden forced to move backward and forward. This puts extreme stress on the cervical spine.
- Others: Neck pain can also develop due to a myriad of other reasons such as bad posture, weight problems, and stress. In fact, sleeping in an awkward position can also lead you to experience pain in the neck when you wake up. Your sleeping posture can cause the muscles in the cervical spine to contract and/or stiffen, thus leading to pain.
If you experience constant neck pain that affects your ability to operate normally, it would be a good idea to seek medical opinion. However, if you feel stiffness in the neck or experience pain after waking up, you can alleviate the discomfort by stretching your neck. You can also use ice and heat therapy, alternating between the application of ice and heat to the neck. However, if you are looking for instant relief, use a topical pain relief ointment such as the Moov cream. The affordable cream contains herbal ingredients like wintergreen and mint leaves that reduce inflammation and have a cooling effect on the affected region.