Understanding Why Neck Pain Occurs
Neck pain can be one of the most frustrating pains of all. Why? Because it's so close to your head and face. It affects the ability to focus, sit at a computer, enjoy a conversation, go for a joy ride or even get a good nights sleep. There are a million and one 'solutions' for neck pain relief out there, but if you don't know what is causing the neck pain or neck pain headache, then you're just taking shots in the dark. Let's look at some of the actual reasons that neck pain occurs.
Mechanical neck pain may be due to overstretching tissues that are responsible for supporting soft discs that separate the vertebrae. Overstretching may be caused by placing a severe strain on the neck. This force is sudden and could be avoided, for example, an accident or contact sport. More frequently overstretching is prompted through postural stresses that place less severe strains on the neck over a lengthy time period. This kind of stress is exerted through us on our own necks and can be easily influenced. Whenever we remain in a relaxed position, standing, sitting, or lying, prolonged over-stretching can easily occur.
Some people assume that neck pain is caused by strained muscles, but this is not the case. Muscles can be overstretched but usually heal fast and rarely cause pain lasting for more than a week or two. However, soft tissues that provide support for spinal joints are willingly injured from overstretching. In fact, usually, these are damaged long before the muscles. Therefore, the actual trouble lies in and about the affected joint. When the soft-tissues heal they may structure scar tissues, become less elastic and shorten. At this stage, even normal movement can also stretch the scars in these shortened structures and cause pain. Unless necessary exercises are performed to gradually stretch and prolong in these structures and fix their normal flexibility, they may become a continuous source of neck pain.
Complications of any other nature occur when ligaments surrounding the disc are injured to such an extent that the disc loses its capacity to take in the shock. This lets the soft tissue inside of the disc to bulge outwards and, in extreme cases, burst through the outer ligament, which might also cause serious problems. When the disc bulge protrudes far enough backward it may press painfully on a spinal nerve. This may additionally allow some of the pains to be felt well away from the source of the trouble, for example in the arm or hand. Due to this bulging, the disk may become severely distorted and prevent the vertebrae from lining up correctly during movement. In this case, some moves might also be blocked in part or totally and the forcing of these movements causes extreme pain. Those of you who experienced an unexpected onset of pain and following this are unable to move the head normally may have some bulging of the tender disc material.
Pain caused by neck problems varies from one person to another. In a first attack, pain is usually felt at or near the base of the neck or simply to one side. Usually, these pains become less intense within a few days. In the following attack, pain can also reach through both shoulders, to the top of one shoulder, or the shoulder blade. Pain can also extend under the elbow to the wrist or hand, and pins and needles or numbness may be felt in the fingers.
I hope that helps you to understand a little bit about why neck pain occurs AND why it presents in different locations.
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