Cervical pain occurs in the neck when there is some type of abnormality or deviation in one or more discs that lie between the vertebrae in the cervical region of the spine. In the majority of cases, the symptoms are temporary and get resolved after a period of time and with proper, consistent non-surgical treatment. There are times, however, when the pain is a sign of infection or disease.
What Causes It?
Cervical pain can be caused by a variety of things. Most temporary or acute episodes are caused by a sudden muscle strain or perhaps a sprain in the ligaments or tendons of the neck. This can happen when sudden violent force is encountered, such as that experienced in a car crash or from calling from a great height. It can also result from strain due to sleeping in the wrong position or from lifting a heavy object. Repetitive neck motion or a large amount of overhead work can also put stress in this region and cause the typical symptoms.
Sometimes the underlying cause is more serious. Bone spurs, for example, can cause symptoms that are typical of this condition. In this case, the pain is caused due to pinching the spinal cord and nerve roots. It often tends to happen when the discs in the neck are dehydrated or herniated.
The symptoms that sometimes show up are similar to several other diseases such as meningitis, tuberculosis, fibromyalgia, and even cancer. Even genetics can play a part – you may be more likely to experience the symptoms if there is a history of cervical spondylosis in your family.
How Do You Treat Cervical Pain?
The steps needed for effective treatment will depend largely on the cause. In order to get to the root of the problem your doctor may refer you to a specialist depending on the initial tests and diagnosis.
If the symptoms are caused due to muscle or ligament strain, you may be advised to try rest, heat and cold therapy, massage therapy and to do neck-strengthening exercises as a precaution against future trouble.
If these options are not effective enough to alleviate the symptoms, you may be prescribed muscle relaxants. Your doctor may also suggest soft-collar traction or local injections of cortisol or anesthetics to help manage the pain so that you can still go about your daily routine.
For more serious cases, surgery may be your best option. If the symptoms are caused by disease, part of your treatment will involve dealing with the underlying problem. This is where talking with a specialist can help enormously.