The structure of the neck, or cervical spine, consists of 7 vertebrae, extending from the skull to the upper torso, or the thoracic spine. The bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the neck function together to support and balance the head as well as provide mobility. But, when a condition or injury causes an abnormality or damage to the cervical spine, the well-known symptoms of pain and stiffness can develop. Neck pain is occasionally experienced by many people although some causes for neck pain are more common than others.
Cervical Radiculopathy can be defined as a series of symptoms rather than a single condition. Various conditions resulting with the impingement of the spinal nerve roots in the area of the neck or injuries that may cause damage to the cervical spine can cause cervical radiculopathy. The symptoms include pain on the neck, tingling and numbness in the arms and hands, and muscle weakness but, as with any condition, the symptoms can vary for each individual.
A broken neck, also referred to as a cervical fracture, is often diagnosed when one or more of the 7 cervical vertebra fractures, breaks, or cracks after suffering an injury. Trauma due to an injury is known to be common, especially among athletes, but a broken neck if not treated properly could lead to pain and further complications. A cervical fracture can result in swelling of the muscles surrounding the injury, ultimately causing compression on the nerve roots and often leading to symptoms of cervical radiculopathy.
Source: Preventing Neck Injury
The vertebrae of the cervical spine naturally align on top of each other into a slight C-shaped curvature known as cervical lordosis. The curvature of the neck is designed to support the head and spine by balancing the body. In some cases, the vertebra in the neck are altered to the point where the normal cervical lordosis is lost and the neck becomes rectified. Diagnosing this condition can be challenging as symptoms may not be present, but in severe cases, symptoms of pain, tingling and numbness can occur.
Spasmodic torticollis is a medical condition where the muscles in the neck contract involuntarily and cause the position of the head to abnormally turn to its side or tilt forward or backward. Torticollis causes pain and discomfort as the nerves of the cervical spine can become pinched also, the pain can radiate from the neck to the shoulders, followed by headaches. The symptoms of this condition have been known to progress gradually until they reach a point where they stabilize.
Source: Spasmodic Torticollis
Whiplash is the result of an injury, usually diagnosed after an automobile accident, where the head jolts abruptly in an unexpected, back-and-forth movement in any direction, causing the soft tissue in the spine to stretch and strain. The ligaments and tendons are damaged by the sudden jerk of the head causing the familiar symptoms of neck pain and stiffness. The majority of cases of whiplash are considered mild, but this type of injury can limit mobility and cause headaches.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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