Mechanical neck pain is a result of degenerative disc disease and arthritis of the facet joints of the cervical spine. Mechanical Neck Pain is a condition that can become chronic due to degenerative disc disease and arthritis in the neck, with the source of pain coming from the spine and its structure. This happens when one of the joints in the spinal area loses its normal resiliency and shock absorption. When a joint becomes dysfunctional, its normal range of movement may be affected and it can be rather painful.
Dysfunctional joints may turn into muscle pain, and even affect the nervous system. This may happen because of the high amount of nerve receptors in the joint. Any muscles related to the joint can become tense and underactive. The muscle imbalance can cause additional stress on the joint, aggravating the joint dysfunction that exists already. Nearly any joint in the spine, from the neck all the way down to the sacroiliac joints, can cause pain. When the joints aren’t being used on a regular basis, degenerative pain occurs.
What Causes Mechanical Neck Pain?
- Degenerative issues with the cervical spine, the mechanical parts that allow us to move our head up
and down and around
- Minor strains or sprains to muscles or ligaments in the neck
- Bad posture. For example, neck pain is more common in people who spend much of their working day at a desk, with a ‘bent-forward’ posture.
- Sometimes the exact cause is unknown.
Symptoms of Mechanical Neck Pain
- Mechanical Neck Pain will not only induce pain in the neck, but also in the shoulders, and upper back
- Neck pain tends to worsen with movement
Neck Pain due to Whiplash
Whiplash syndrome is a collection of symptoms that result when there is soft-tissue injury of the cervical spine. Whiplash is very common whenever the head is forcefully jerked forward, back, or both. It is a common injury with automobile accidents. In fact, many people have suffered whiplash even in low impact car collisions. It is also common for someone to have a delayed onset of whiplash, where the person does not realize that they have had a whiplash injury. When this occurs, usually at some future point in time, that patient will begin to present with some of the classic signs of a whiplash injury.
What Causes Neck Pain from Whiplash?
The rapid and forceful movement that jerks the head forward and back, causes major strain to the cervical spine. Though most often associated with a rear-end collision, whiplash can also occur from a sports injury, physical abuse or trauma.
The most common whiplash symptoms are:
- Neck pain and/or stiffness
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- Pain in the arms or legs, feet and hands
- Low back pain and/or stiffness
- Shoulder pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Numbness and tingling
- Pain in the jaw or face
Cervical Herniated Disc
The back is composed of bones, joints, discs, ligaments and muscles. The bones that run from the neck down the spine are called vertebrae. In between each vertebra is a disc. These discs have three main functions:
- Act as a shock absorber between adjoining vertebrae.
- Act as joints that allow for mobility in the spine.
- Act as ligaments that hold the vertebrae of the spine together.
In order for a disc to function properly, it must have high water content because this makes the disc strong yet flexible. As long as the disc is well hydrated and undamaged, it has the ability to support heavy loads.
Injury, poor body mechanics and poor nutrition can cause the disc to become dehydrated. This causes the disc to lose its ability to support the spinal bones during everyday living. This can result in disc injury such as a bulge or herniation.
When a cervical (neck) disc becomes herniated, it can cause pain in the neck, shoulders, chest, arms or hands. Arm pain from a cervical herniated disc is one of the more common cervical spine conditions found in the 30 to 50year-old age group. Even though a herniated disc may happen due to some form of injury or trauma to the cervical spine, more often than not, the symptoms seem to appear rather spontaneously. Arm pain due to a cervical herniated disc occurs because the disc material presses or pinches on a cervical nerve, causing pain to radiate down the nerve pathway of the entire arm. In addition to pain, a person may experience weakness, numbness, and tingling in the arm.
What Causes a Cervical Herniated Disc?
As we age, ligaments surrounding the discs become less flexible and elastic, making them brittle and more easily torn. This can also prevent important nutrients and hydration to get to the disc to keep it healthy. When a disc herniates, it puts pressure on nearby spinal nerves or the spinal cord, and this is what causes all that pain.
Symptoms of a Cervical Herniated Disc
- Neck, shoulder and/or arm pain
- pain ranges from dull, aching and hard to locate to sharp, burning and easy to pinpoint
- radiating arm pain
- numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arm or hand in more severe cases
A specific cervical disc herniation has its own pain patterns and neurological problems. These are as follows:
- C5 (C5 nerve root): Can cause weakness in the deltoid muscle in the upper arm. Does not usually cause numbness or tingling. Can cause shoulder pain.
- C6 (C6 nerve root): Can cause weakness in the biceps (muscles in the front of the upper arms) and wrist extensor muscles. Numbness and tingling along with pain can radiate to the thumb side of the hand. This is one of the most common levels for a cervical disc herniation to occur.
- C7 (C7 nerve root): Can cause weakness in the triceps (muscles in the back of the upper arm and extending to the forearm) and the finger extensor muscles. Numbness and tingling along with pain can radiate down the triceps and into the middle finger. This is also one of the most common levels for a cervical disc herniation.
- T1 (C8 nerve root): Can cause weakness with handgrip. Numbness and tingling and pain can radiate down the arm to the pinky finger side of hand.