CAUSES OF CHRONIC NECK PAIN
Chronic neck Pain is defined as neck pain persisting fore more than 3 months. It can exhibit a wide array of clinical features ranging from annoying intermittent neck pain to debilitating pain wrecking havoc with one’s quality of life. Cervical Spondylosis
Cervical spondylosis is generally used as a blanket term describing conditions associated with degenerative changes in the spine. It might include
- Cervical degenerative disc disease. As the age related dehydration of the intervertebral discs progresses over time, the disc looses it’s elasticity and can herniate. The degenerated disc by itself or irritation of the adjoining nerve root might be a source of pain. In degenerative disc disease, the disease process soon starts affecting the adjoining levels of disc- vertebra complex.
- Cervical osteoarthritis. As the facet joints start loosing the protective cartilage layer covering them over time owing to the wear and tear, the bony surfaces start grinding against each other progressing into Osteoarthritis of the facet joints.
- Cervical herniated disc. As the protective outer layer of the disc, the annulus fibrosis develops tears the jelly like nucleus pulposus tends to leak out from within. Inflammatory proteins may bring about irritation of the nerve root or the herniated part of the disc might impinge on a nerve root itself causing symptoms.
- Cervical foraminal stenosis. Narrowing of the intervertebral foramen by disc degeneration, ligament thickening and bone spurs can lead to impingement of the nerve root and lead to cervical radiculopathy.
- Cervical central stenosis. This condition involves narrowing of the spinal canal within the neck, which can lead to compression of the spinal cord symptoms of myelopathy.
While spondylosis is typically due to wear-and-tear over time, this process may be accelerated by an injury.
Traumatic injury due to a fall or collision can lead to injury of the muscles, ligaments, joints , discs or the vertebrae.
- Head on accidents with seat belt in place can lead to whiplash injury of the neck. They can lead to Cervical degeneration and Instability in the future. Impact injury or falls in contact sports or athletic events.
- Slip on wet floor
- Fall from height, such as down steps or a ladder
While neck pain typically goes away after an acute injury has healed, sometimes the pain persists and becomes chronic.
Poor posture is probably the most common lifestyle trait responsible for chronic neck pain. Especially with people engaged in long hours of screen time for their work, the ideal neutral position for the cervical spine which is with the chest open , shoulders back and ears above the shoulders gets compromised as person tends to become slouched with the head drifting forwards with long hours of screen time. This can hasten the degenerative process and can be responsible for neck pain.
Other Causes of Chronic Neck Pain
Less common causes of chronic neck pain may include:
- Fibromyalgia. Often difficult to diagnose , fibromyalgia typically includes widespread pain, tenderness, and fatigue. Neck and upper back are amongst the commonest areas affected with trigger points in patients suffering with Fibromyalgia.Tender points associated with fibromyalgia are commonly found in the neck and upper back.
- Cervical myofascial pain syndrome. Achy muscles, pain over neck and upper back ,trigger points and fatigue are some of the key features of myofascial syndromes.
- Spondylolisthesis. It is characterised by a vertebra slipping over the vertebra beneath it. Spondylolisthesis can be caused by vertebral fracture, ligament laxity, and/or advanced disc degeneration.
- Tumors and Infections make up the more rare causes of neck pain.
Various other rare causes of chronic neck pain exist, such as spinal tumors or infection