Genesis Integrative Medicine
Neck Pain Q & A
Cervical degenerative disc disease: As the intervertebral discs lose hydration over time, they also lose height and become less flexible. This degenerative process could cause the disc to become painful and/or nearby nerves to become compressed.
Cervical osteoarthritis: When a facet joint’s protective cartilage begins to wear away, bone starts grinding against bone. The joint may grow bone spurs (osteophytes) and become inflamed and painful.
Cervical herniated disc: When part or all of the disc’s outer layer (annulus fibrosus) tears, jelly-like material from the inner layer (nucleus pulposus) leaks into the outer later. This leaking may cause inflammation and pain. When the tear is large, the inner layer’s inflammatory proteins may leak completely out of the disc and onto a nearby nerve root.
Cervical foraminal stenosis: This condition involves the narrowing of the intervertebral foramen, the bony opening where the nerve root exits the spinal canal. This narrowing can be caused by disc degeneration, ligament thickening, and/or bone spurs. When a cervical nerve root becomes compressed, it can cause cervical radicular pain (arm pain) and/or cervical radiculopathy (arm numbness and/or weakness).
Cervical central stenosis: This condition involves narrowing of the spinal canal within the neck. As with cervical foraminal stenosis, this condition can be caused by disc degeneration, ligament thickening, and/or bone spurs. When the spinal cord becomes compressed within the neck, it can cause pain and/or cervical myelopathy (numbness, weakness, and/or reflex problems) anywhere beneath the level of compression, such as in the arms or legs.
While spinal degeneration is typically due to wear-and-tear over time, this process may be accelerated by an injury.
Neck pain can range from being minor and easily ignored to excruciating and interfering with daily activities, such as the ability to dress, concentrate, or sleep. Sometimes neck pain can lead to a stiff neck and reduced range of motion.
The duration of neck pain is commonly classified as follows:
- Acute. Pain that lasts less than 4 weeks.
- Subacute. Pain that lasts 4 to 12 weeks.
- Chronic. Pain that lasts 3 or more months.
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