Your spine is made up of bones (vertebrae that support the body’s weight), their joints (facets that guide the direction of the movement of the spine), and the discs (which separate the vertebrae and absorb the shock as you move), the muscles and the ligaments that hold it all together. One or more of these structures can be injured:
You can strain or sprain the ligaments or muscles from a sudden movement, improper movement, or through over use.
You can sprain the ligamentous part of your discs. Sprains can allows the disc to bulge and press against a nerve.
Any of these injuries can result in a two-or-three day period of acute pain and swelling in the injured tissue, followed by slow healing and gradual reduction of pain. The pain may be felt in the neck, the head (headaches), in the shoulder, or down an arm (often the pain is felt primarily in the shoulder, arm or hand with very little actual neck pain). Onset of pain may be immediate or occur some hours after exertion or an injury. There may be a slow onset – pain gradually increases over several days or weeks.
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU SEE A DOCTOR
WHEN TO SEE A PHYSICAL THERAPIST
POSTURES FOR ACUTE PAIN RELIEF
EXERCISES TO AVOID
FIRST AID FOR BACK PAIN
- postural strain (improper position when sitting – reading – working at a computer)
- Severe blow or fall.
- Car accident
- Heavy lifting.
- Sleeping without good neck support/sleeping on your stomach
- Turning over while you are asleep. Then waking up with a “stiff neck.”
- Degenerated/ ruptured cervical disc.
- Bone spur.
- Nerve dysfunction.
- Osteoporosis, tumors.
- Spondylosis (hardening and stiffening of the spinal column).
- Congenital problem.
- Often there is no obvious cause.
Sex or Age Most Affected
Adults of both sexes, usually between ages 20 and 40.
Signs & Symptoms
- Pain or deep ache of the neck, shoulder or arm(this needs to be differentiated from true shoulder pain, such as tendonitis\bursitis). There may be burning or tingling of the arm or hand or headaches. It may be continuous, or only occur when you are in a certain position. The pain may be aggravated by turning your head, looking up or looking down ( as with reading).
- limited range of motion (less than normal movement) of the neck.
- Stiffness of the neck and shoulder muscles.
Risk Increases With
- Sitting for long periods and bending your head /neck forward. (desk work, cooking, etc.)
- Participation in sports without warming up ( stretches).
- Sharp increase in athletic activity (weekend athlete)
- Poor posture with sitting – sleeping.
- Frequent travel on planes.
- Falling asleep sitting up.(head hanging down)
How to Prevent
- Exercises to strengthen /stretch neck and shoulder muscles.
- Learn how to sit and work without bending your neck.
- Proper back & neck support for your car/bed/sofa/chair.
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