10 possible causes why you have pain in your neck

Your neck has a full time job. This vital link between your head and body turns nods and bends almost 24 hours a day. Therefore, it is not so strange that pain in the neck may sometimes develop. This may have many different causes, which we categorized together with the possible remedies to prevent or relieve the pain.

1. Incorrect sleeping position

You wake up in the morning with a stiff and sore neck? Perhaps you fell asleep in a chair or spend another night on a wrong or different pillow? It may also be possible to have slept in a strange position, causing tension on your neck. These neck complaints are common and are usually not severe. With a little rest and Paracetamol, they soon disappear. To prevent this neck pain, you should sleep on your back and choose a comfortable pillow with a correct head position.

2. Unusual neck position

Neck pain can also occur if you make unusual movements or position with your neck. For example, staring in the sky all the time at an airshow. Or look down from the top of a football stadium to watch the match. After a while, there may be pain in the neck. This is because the neck muscles that are not used to a certain position for a prolonged period of time. Therefore, avoid these situations if it is not really necessary. And when this is not possible, move your neck regularly in every direction to smoothen your muscles. With rest and paracetamol, you can overcome this neck pain. If the pain persists for a few days, go to see your doctor.
10 possible causes why you have pain in your neck

3. WhatsApp neck

This is a serious form of neck pain occurring when bend your head down for a prolonged period of time to watch your smartphone or tablet. As a result, the muscles and tendons in the neck area get overstretched. In order to prevent neck complaints, you can raise your smartphone or tablet. You can also consider (in the case of WhatsApp) to install the program on your computer or laptop. With long conversations, this is also easier with typing.
Take a break regularly and do some neck and shoulder exercises. More exercise makes you stronger and more flexible, which also helps protect your neck’s muscles.

4. ‘Stinger’

Having a so called stinger means that a nerve in your neck is suddenly compressed and stretched. There is a stinging pain in the neck. This feels like an electric shock that radiates to the shoulders and sometimes also to the arms and hands. This only takes a few minutes. After that, you can experience tingling, numbness and weakness in both arms for days or weeks. You will usually recover from a ‘stinger’ without treatment. Does this often occur or are the complaints present for a long time? Then it is wise to go to the GP. He can refer you to an exercise therapist to strengthen your neck joints and muscles. He can also refer you to a specialist to remove scar tissue that can damage your nerves.

5. Whiplash

A whiplash may occur when you are suddenly hit in the back with a severe blow. In most cases, this injury is caused by a car accident. Your head is going forward like a whip and then backwards. As a consequence, the cervical column becomes excessively stretched and bent. In addition to neck pain, headache, numbness, tingling and pain in the upper back or arms may also occur when suffering from a whiplash. The doctor will prescribe painkillers and possibly a neck collar to relieve the neck muscles. He can also refer you to a physical therapist to improve your posture and train your neck muscles. Normally you will recover from whiplash within one year.

6. Neck hernia

Neck hernia
A neck hernia is caused by a bulge on one of the vertebral discs of the cervical spine. This nodule can press on a nerve. This causes pain in the neck that can radiate to the shoulders, back and arms. In almost all cases, these complaints disappear by itself. If necessary, the doctor may suggest painkillers, physical therapy or dosed rest. In cases of severe and rapid onset of seizures, surgery is usually decided.

7. Spinal column stenosis

This complaint occurs when the vertebral canal in the neck becomes narrowed. As a result, the nerves and spinal cord become compressed and pain develops. Spinal canal stenosis is often the result of aging, and it is therefore common in people aged 50 and over. But osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and tumors may also play a role in this condition. An anti-inflammatory analgesic can help relieve the pain in your neck. Also, a number of treatments by a physical therapist can help improve the condition of your neck. In severe cases, surgery may be performed at the neck, reducing pressure on the spinal column.

8. Bony spurs (osteophytes)

These are small and hard swellings on the bone of the spinal column. It is quite normal that these bony spurs (also called parrot beans or osteophytes) are formed over the age of 50 years. However, they can press on the spinal cord and nerves causing a stiff neck with a numb pain in the arms. Also, bony spurs can cause a headache. You can fight the symptoms with Paracetamol and anti-inflammatory analgesics. When these bony spurs restrict your freedom of movement too much, they can be removed surgically.

9. Spinal Tumor

This is a tumor that is usually spread from another part of your body to your spinal canal. However, it can also occur in the part running through the neck. There, the tumor is pushing against the nerves, with pain as a result. In addition, weakness and numbness may occur in the arms and legs. The surgeon can remove a portion of the tumor reducing the pressure on the nerves. After that, the rest of the tumor can be destroyed by radiation or chemotherapy.

10. Neck arthrosis

When aging, the cartilage of the intervertebral discs may become drier causing it to wear out. As a result, small protrusions appear on the bones that press against the nerves. Arthritis in the neck is accompanied by pain, stiffness, headache and pain in the shoulders and arms. At a later stage, tingling and numbness may also occur. Giving the neck sufficient rest – whether or not wearing a neck collar – is important for osteoarthritis in the neck. In addition, the doctor will often prescribe anti-inflammatory analgesics and refer you to a physiotherapist.


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