Neck pain is experienced by millions of people at different times in their lives. Most cases of neck pain heal over time and only require simple treatments to alleviate the pain. However, there are several symptoms that could indicate a serious medical condition. While most types of neck pain are not caused by anything anatomically identifiable, some types of neck pain are associated with a common cause or diagnosable condition. Neck pain can stem for causes such as worn joints, muscle strains, injuries, nerve compression and diseases.
Neck Pain That Continues Through The Arm
When you experience neck pain down the arm, and even fingers or hands, it could mean that there is a nerve pinch in the neck. These pinches are often caused by foraminal stenosis or a cervical herniated disc. In addition to neck pain, you may also experience numbness in the hands and arms. It is possible to feel these symptoms all of sudden or have them progress over time.
Treatment approaches are influenced by the intensity, degree and length of the pain to which the associated areas are affected. In most cases, the symptoms are short-lived and can be fixed with nonsurgical treatment. Surgery may be necessary if the pain does not subside after a few months of treatment.
Neck Pain That Is Linked to Positions or Activities
Neck pain that takes more than a year to develop (due to neck positioning or activities) is often caused by cervical foraminal stenosis. Most symptoms are caused by an impingement of a single nerve root on either side of the spine. The cause of spinal stenosis is often related to aging changes or continuous wear throughout the neck joints and disc margins.
It is possible to diagnose the changes through a CT or MRI scan using a myelogram. The common treatment for stenosis is medical treatment such as exercise, therapy and medication. If pain conditions do not alleviate with time, surgery may be required to create more disc space for nerve roots.
Neck Pain That Lasts for Many Months and Fluctuates
Neck pain that comes in fluctuations, or is aggravated by activities or positions, can mean you have symptomatic cervical disc degeneration. Most symptoms are related to the amount of activity that the person engages in. For example, the more the neck is used, the more pain it causes.
Neck Pain That Is Linked to Incoordination and Arm Pain
Pain that moves from the neck down to the arm, whilst causing difficulties in leg and arm coordination, is typically caused by cervical spinal stenosis with myelopathy. Other symptoms include irregular shooting pains and fine motor skill difficulties. The symptoms typically develop at a slow rate and are caused by joint degeneration or a cervical herniated disc.
It is possible for symptoms to remain dormant for years, when all of the sudden the patient experiences difficulties with coordination. This is typically followed by another period where symptoms remain dormant again.
There are some noninvasive treatments that help to relieve the pain, though the most common option for spinal cord compression is surgery.