Comprised of seven cervical vertebrae, the neck is a complex structure
supporting the head. Great discomfort results from arthritis in the
neck. Neck pain is caused from muscles, nerves and ligaments problems,
as well as the bones and joints of the spine.
Neck Pain and Headaches
Cervicogenic headaches are caused by referred neck pain. Referred
pain is pain that moves away from where it originates. In your case,
the pain source is in your neck, and the pain radiates to the back
of your head, into one or both temples, and one or both of your eyes. However, cervicogenic headaches—while felt in the back of the head, and
sometimes in the temples or behind the eyes— arise from a problem in
the upper cervical spine. Because the upper 3 cervical spinal
segments share nerve tracts with cranium itself, pain is
misunderstood and thus "felt" by the brain as being located in the
head. Sadly, many patients are misdiagnosed and treated each year as
suffering from migraine or cluster headache, and do not receive a
proper diagnosis or treatment for their cervicogenic headache disorder.
Whiplash (Cervical Sprain and Strain)
Whiplash is when the soft tissues of the neck are injured by a sudden
jerking or "whipping" of the head. This type of motion strains the
muscles and ligaments of the neck beyond their normal range of motion. When a vehicle stops suddenly in a crash or is struck from behind, a
seat belt will keep a person's body from being thrown forward. But the
head may snap forward, then backward, causing whiplash.
Spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal cord that causes pressure on
the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings (called neural foramina)
where spinal nerves leave the spinal column. Spinal stenosis may be caused by:
Arthritis involving the spine, usually in middle-aged or elderly people
Herniated or slipped disk, which often occurred in the past
Injury that causes pressure on the nerve roots or the spinal cord itself
Defect in the spine that was present from birth (congenital defect)
Tumors in the spine
Bone diseases, such as Paget's disease of bone and achondroplasia
Understanding cervical spine disease and injuries requires basic knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics.
A physical therapist is a specialist trained to work with you to restore your activity,
strength and motion following an injury or surgery. Physical therapists
can teach specific exercises, stretches and techniques and use
specialized equipment to address problems that cannot be managed without
this specialized physical therapy training.
Physical therapists are trained to identify deficiencies in the
biomechanics of the body. Working with a physical therapist can target
specific areas of weakness in the way our bodies work. They can relieve
stress and help the body function without pain.
Physical therapists are knowledgeable about surgical procedures and
treatment goals, and can tailor their efforts to improve your
well-being. After surgical procedures, it is important that therapy is
guided by the surgical procedure. Physical therapists are knowledgeable
about your body's limitations after surgery and can help ensure a
Strengthening of the muscles around the cervical spine joint may help decrease the
burden on the Neck. Preventing atrophy of the muscles is an important
part of maintaining functional use of the cervical spine.
Contact campus Physical Therapy Center for an appointment with a physical therapist at
Cervical Disc Disease (Herniated Disc)
Cervical disc disorders encountered in Physical Therapy practice include herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP), degenerative disc disease (DDD), and internal disc disruption (IDD). HNP implies extension of disc material beyond the posterior margin of
the vertebral body. Most of the herniation is made up of the annulus
fibrosus. DDD involves degenerative annular tears, loss of disc height,
and nuclear degradation. IDD describes annular fissuring of the disc
without external disc deformation. Cervical radiculopathy can result from nerve root injury in the presence of disc herniation or stenosis, most commonly foraminal stenosis, leading to sensory, motor, or reflex abnormalities in the affected nerve root distribution.
Cervical Spondilosis (Osteoarthritis)
Cervical spondylosis is a disorder in which there is abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones of the neck (cervical vertebrae). Cervical spondylosis is caused by chronic wearing away (degeneration) of the cervical spine, including the
cushions between the neck vertebrae (cervical disks) and the joints
between the bones of the cervical spine. There may be abnormal growths
or "spurs" on the bones of the spine (vertebrae).
Facet joints are found in the posterior of the spine. There are 24 vertebrae which form the human spine. There are two facet joints between the vertebrae of each spinal segment along the spinal column. The facet joints and disc space form a three joint complex near each
vertebrae. A facet joint has two bony surfaces with cartilage between
them and a capsule of ligaments surrounding it. Synovial fluid
lubricates the joints as is the case with any joint.
Cervical Myofascial Pain
Myofascial Pain originates from the vertebral spine in the neck
correlating to muscle and its surrounding fascia (sheath of connective
tissue supporting or binding together internal organs or parts of the
body.). The diagnosis of this syndrome in clinical, with no confirmatory
laboratory tests available.Thus,
myofascial pain in any location is characterized on examination by the
presence of trigger points located in skeletal muscle. In the cervical
spine, the muscles most often implicated in myofascial pain are the
trapezius, levator scapulae, rhomboids, supraspinatus, and
infraspinatus. A trigger point is defined as a hyperirritable area
located in a palpable taut band of muscle fibers.
Cervical Sprain and Strain
Cervical strain is one of the most common musculoskeletal problems
encountered by generalists and neuromusculoskeletal specialists in the