Neck pain can be the result of a common strain or an indication of something more serious, like a cervical spine disorder. Being able to know the cause your neck pain is essential to receiving the appropriate course of treatment. Take a few minutes to become familiar with the main differences between the conditions.
A neck strain occurs when the ligaments or muscles in your neck are injured. This overstretching of the tissues may result from sleeping in an uncomfortable position, a forceful fall or sharp twisting of the neck. Neck pain that is caused by a cervical spine disorder may stem from a variety of conditions, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or osteoarthritis.
Duration of Pain
The pain from a neck strain occurs suddenly and can resolve itself after a few days or weeks, depending on the severity of the strain. In contrast, pain that is caused by a cervical spine disorder can last almost indefinitely without proper treatment. You may experience reoccurring steady pain, or the pain may be intermittent and get progressively worse with each occurrence to the point that it can begin to affect how well you perform your daily activities.
Location of the Pain
The location range of your neck pain is another clue as to its cause. The discomfort caused by a neck strain tends to be localized, not straying very far from the neck. You may feel the effects of the strain along the upper portion of your neck near the jaw or along the upper part of the shoulders. The affected area of a neck strain may be tender and inflamed, feeling warm to the touch.
Because spinal injuries affect the nerves, any pain caused by a cervical spine disorder can be experienced all along the length of the nerve, usually just on one side of your body. This means that the pain can extend from the neck and down into your shoulder, arm and hand.
Nature of Pain
The type of neck pain from a neck strain may differ significantly from a cervical spine condition. The pain of a neck strain will feel like a constant, dull ache. Flexibility may be difficult, and any movement of the affected area can make the pain sharpen significantly. The nerve pain caused by a cervical spine disorder will induce a painful, burning sensation that will also become lessened from movement.
Neck pain may be a sign of a serious spinal condition. Dr. Kelly Kiehm and the staff at Capital City Neurosurgery are committed to providing patients with a range of personalized treatment solutions to restore their spine health, including minimally invasive spine surgery. If you are experiencing pain in your neck or back, contact us today to arrange an initial consultation.