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Neck Pain Causes

Neck pain

Neck pain is discomfort in any of the structures in the neck. These include the muscles, nerves, bones (vertebrae), and the disks between the bones. The neck (cervical spine) is composed of vertebrae that begin in the upper torso and end at the base of the skull. The bony vertebrae along with the ligaments and muscles provide stability to the spine. These muscles allow for support and motion.

The neck supports the weight of the head and is responsible for a significant amount of motion. Because the neck is less protected than the rest of the spine, the neck can be vulnerable to injuries that produce pain and can drastically limit motion.


  • Whiplash - An injury to the soft tissues of the neck from a sudden jerking or "whipping" of the head. This type of motion strains the muscles and ligaments of the neck beyond their normal range of motion.
  • Arthritis - Cervical Spondylitis is Arthritis of the Neck. Like the rest of the body, the bones in the neck (cervical spine) slowly degenerate as we age. More than 85% of people over age 60 are affected. Although it is a form of arthritis, cervical spondylitis rarely becomes a crippling or disabling type.
  • Muscle strains - Overuse such as too many hours hunched over a desk/computer, often triggers muscle strains. Sleeping in a position that strains the neck, such as with a pillow that is too high or too firm. Even such minor things as reading in bed or gritting your teeth can strain neck muscles.
  • Nerve compression - Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can take up too much space and press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
  • Diseases - Neck pain can sometimes be caused by diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer.

Home Care

  • For minor, common causes of neck pain:
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Apply heat or ice to the painful area.
    • One good method is to use ice for the first 48 - 72 hours, then use heat after that. Heat may be applied with hot showers, hot compresses, or a heating pad.
  • Stop normal physical activity for the first few days to reduce inflammation.
  • Gently stretch the neck muscles. (up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear)
  • Gently massage the sore areas.
  • Sleep on a firm mattress without a pillow or with a special neck pillow.
  • Use a soft neck collar to relieve discomfort.

When Should You Seek Medical Care?
If severe neck pain occurs following an injury (motor vehicle accident, diving accident, or fall), medical care should be sought immediately.

If there has not been an injury, you should seek medical care when neck pain is:

  • Continuous
  • Severe
  • Accompanied by pain that radiates down the arms or legs
  • Accompanied by headaches, numbness, tingling, or weakness

Many patients seek orthopedic care for neck pain.  The Become Pain Free orthopedists are specifically trained to diagnose, treat, and help prevent problems involving the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons our Become Pain Free specialist treat a wide variety of diseases, injuries, and other conditions, including neck pain. Call us today at (214) 396-3647 to find the treatment that is right for you.

to find the treatment that is right for you.

The most common types of neck pain usually respond well to home care. If neck pain persists, your doctor may recommend other treatments.

  • Medications
  • Physical Therapy
  • Traction
  • Surgical Procedures
  • Steroid injections

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Spinal Disc Problems

Back pain has many causes, many of which involve the discs in the spine. Discs are cushions that are located between each vertebrae that makes up the spine. Discs can deteriorate over time, possibly leading to several potential spinal disc problems. Normal Disc A normal, healthy disc provides cushioning between the bones, or vertebra, that make up the spine. A disc is round, but flattened at the top and bottom, and is flexible to provide shock absorption and act as connective tissue between vertebra. Each spinal disc is made up of a firmer collagen outer layer with a softer fiber and gelatinous center. Over time, loss of hydration may lead to discs becoming stiffer or more brittle, leading to potential problems. Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is not really a disease and is typically used to refer to the natural degeneration that occurs to discs over time. Loss of fluid causes discs to become thinner and stiffer. Degenerative Disc Disease may include inflammation within the inner portion of the disc or stiffening of the outer portion, resulting in micromotion instability and small cracks or tears. DDD does not always cause pain or other symptoms, but this condition may lead to the development of other spinal disc problems. Bulging Disc Due to weakening and thinning of the tough outer layer of the disc, the inner filling may press beyond its natural boundaries, forcing part of the outer layer to extend beyond its normal range, resulting in a protrusion of an area of the disc. Bulging discs typically have no symptoms, unless the protruding area presses on surrounding nerves. Herniated Disc If there are tiny cracks in the outer layer of the disc, pressure can allow some of the gelatinous fluid from the inner core to leak out of the disc and protrude into the spinal column. While it is possible that a herniated disc may have no symptoms, it is more likely because the protruding inner core is likely to press on surrounding nerves. Thinning Disc Thinning, or flattening, of spinal discs is a normal occurrence of DDD. Problems can occur if parts of the weakened disc break off and press on nerves or affect normal spinal movement. Thinning discs may allow bones in the spine to rub together, leading to pain and additional problems. Disc Degeneration with Osteophyte Formation As discs thin with DDD, less space is available between vertebrae. Osteophytes, or bone spurs, can develop to compensate for the thinning space. Osteophytes may cause no symptoms, or they may grow large enough to press on nerves. No matter what is causing your back pain, Become Pain Free has a medical specialist who will work to help you become pain-free. Make an appointment today by calling us today at (214) 396-3647 or toll-free at (888) 373-3720. The sooner you call, the quicker you can get back to living your life instead of living in pain.

Note: The information on this Web site is provided as general health guidelines and may not be applicable to your particular health condition. Your individual health status and any required medical treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider of your choice. Remember: There is no adequate substitution for a personal consultation with your physician. Neither BPF Specialty Hospital, or any of their affiliates, nor any contributors shall have any liability for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided by this Web site.