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Cervical Pain Or A Pain In The Neck

By October 16, 2009 - 3:59pm

By Ann Butenas / EmpowHer Writer

Some things in life seem to annoy us. Some things in life we can just brush off. Some things in life truly are a pain in the neck. When it comes to neck pain or cervical pain, the situation is no laughing matter, and all its sufferers seek is fast relief.

Pain that is located in the neck is quite common. Referred to as cervical pain, neck pain can present due to a number of reasons, from degenerative disc disease to whip lash or even a pinched nerve.

According to the experts at www.medicinenet.com, neck pain is typically associated with a dull aching feeling. At times, the pain can feel worse when the patient moves his or her neck. Accompanying symptoms can include numbness, tingling, tenderness, sharp pain, pulsations, difficulty with swallowing, whishing sounds in the head, dizziness, or light-headedness. In some cases, the nearby glands may swell.

Seven vertebrae serve as the building blocks of the spine in the neck region. Discs rest between each vertebrae. Structures within the neck include the muscles, arteries, veins, lymph glands, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, the esophagus, the larynx, and the trachea. When disease strikes any of these areas, it can lead to associated neck pain.

When a patient seeks out medical care for his or her neck pain, the attending physician will want to make a diagnosis. The doctor will note the location of the pain, its intensity and duration, as well as how far out the pain radiates from the patient’s neck. The patient will also be asked to discuss any past injuries to the neck, if any. The patient will then be observed for what motions with the neck tend to relieve the pain and what motions exacerbate the pain. The doctor will examine the neck when the patient is both at rest and in motion. Any tenderness will be detected through minor manipulation of the area. To determine if nerve involvement is the cause, an examination of the nervous system will be conducted.

Extensive diagnostic testing of neck pain may include an x-ray evaluation, a CAT scan, a bone scan, an MRI scan, or a myelogram.

When treating neck pain, the physician takes into account the precise cause of the pain. Among the available options for the patient include rest, heat or ice pack applications, traction, a soft collar, physical therapy, or local cortisone injections. In some cases, the patient may be asked to use a topical anesthetic cream or a topical pain patch. Analgesics and muscle relaxants may be effective in alleviating the pain, as well. Surgical procedures may be done as the last available option.

According to Iain Kalfas, MD, medical expert at www.spineuniverse.com, “the cervical spine is a marvelous and complex structure. It is capable of supporting a head that weighs 15 or more pounds while moving in several directions.” No other area of the spine has such a great freedom of movement. This combination of complexity and mobility make the neck region susceptible to pain and injury.

From injuries and accidents, to growing older and just the elements of every day life, our necks can incur a host of ailments. In cases where one experiences even mild discomfort in the neck, it is a good idea to stick your neck out a bit and seek some expert medical advice. Life shouldn’t be a pain in the neck, in any way, shape or form.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.