Your neck is a complex system of bones, discs, ligaments and muscles that all work together to grant movement and support to your head. Your neck or "cervical" spine is made up of 7 vertebra stacked on top of each other with a shock absorbing "disc" between each level (from 2-7) for flexibility. The block-like front of the vertebra is called the "body." Projecting off of each vertebral body are two smaller bony columns. The tops and bottoms of these two columns are capped with smooth joints called "facets." These facets allow for each vertebrae to articulate (move in small increments) with the vetebra above and below. Several ligaments span the space between each vertebra to help keep it in place in relation to its neighbors above and below. (kind of like seat belts) There are also several small muscles that span between each vertebra which allow for coordinated movement as well as act as a support for the spine. (kind of like bungie cords) Last but not least, the spine provides a canal for the spinal cord to run from your brain to your tail bone. In the space created by two neighboring vertebra joined together, emerges a spinal nerve which "innervates" connects your body's sensations and movements to and from your brain.
Neck Pain can be caused by an injury or wear and tear on any one of the components of the Cervical Spine that I mentioned above:
- Strain / Sprain Injury of the Ligaments / Muscles of the neck.
- Disc Injuries (including protrusion or herniation)
- Facet Injury (Irritation or inflammation of the facet joint)
- Radiculopathy (Irritation or pinched spinal nerve)
- Joint Restriction (Slightly misaligned or restricted facet joint complex)
- Arthritis or Degeneration of the spinal joints, (DJD) usually accompanied by
- Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) degeneration of the intervertebral discs
- Stenosis (narrowing of the space that surrounding your spinal chord)
- Torticollis (wry neck)
- Hyperflexion / Hyperextension Injury (Whiplash)
Image Credit: Netter's Textbook of Anatomy
To get help for your neck pain call us at 952-818-2485 or go online to schedule.