Cervicalgia CausesCervicalgia is extremely prevalent with around a third of people suffering some degree of neck pain at least once a year and more than 10% of people thought to have had neck pain lasting longer than six months. Common cervicalgia causes include poor posture, such as working at a desk for long periods of time without a break and with a poor ergonomic set up. Ideally a computer screen should be placed so that the head or neck does not have to tilt or strain to see it comfortably. An unsupportive chair and elevated keyboard position, or writing position, will also cause strains in the lower back, wrists, and arms, which can then create imbalances further up in the neck and shoulders.
Causes of cervicalgia are often multi-factorial with a combination of poor posture increasing muscle tension and strain and predisposing a person to acute injury during sporting or recreational activity. Conversely, an acute injury to the neck, such as a stinger or burner in football, or whiplash, can then cause alterations in the posture which, if not addressed, may develop into chronic cervicalgia.
Physical symptoms of pain can also be connected to anxiety and depression and many people carry a lot of tension in their neck and shoulders; almost like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders like Atlas. Where stress and tension are the underlying cause of cervicalgia it can help to combine thermotherapy with relaxation techniques as both the immediate symptoms and the underlying problem will need addressing to provide effective relief. Patients who are depressed are also increasingly sensitized to pain and even small aches and strains in the neck can be felt more profoundly. Where there are no clear reasons for neck pain and other symptoms such as fatigue, listlessness, and prolonged and/or profound sadness are evident it may be that depression is responsible for the neck pain. Conversely, the ongoing experience of neck pain, particularly when unable to be attributed to any particular cause, can actually lead to stress, tension, and depression, further exacerbating the symptoms. It is, therefore, clearly extremely important to determine the timeline for such symptoms to appear in order to try to establish cause and effect.
Cervicalgia can also be an aspect of generalized musculoskeletal issues, such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or osteoporosis. Disc herniation and spinal stenosis can be at the root of cervicalgia although these often also lead to radicular pain in the shoulders, arms, and hands. In rare cases the cause of neck pain may be an infection in the spine, with osteomyelitis sometimes occurring after back surgery for instance, or following trauma of some kind. Tumor growth in the spine is another infrequent cause of cervicalgia.
Cervicalgia causes for some patients is sometimes not connected to the spine at all, and is, instead, linked to cardiovascular problems, or respiratory and upper gastrointestinal issues. Acid reflux may make itself known as a burning pain in the neck rather than lower in the chest and, if this is chronic, the acid can cause damage to the oesophagus leading to precancerous changes (Barrett’s Oesophagus). Blood vessel compression, or abnormalities in the vasculature of the neck can lead to ischaemia in the cervical spinal muscles, causing neck pain. Swelling, congestion, and oedema from upper respiratory tract infections may also lead to neck pain, as can a constant cough which strains the neck muscles and puts pressure on the intervertebral discs.
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Last Updated: 04/25/2011