Cervical strain is an injury to the muscles of the neck and upper back. These muscles support the neck and cause the neck to move.
The most common causes of a cervical strain injury include overuse of the muscles, overstretching of the muscles, contraction against resistance or a direct blow to the neck/shoulder.
Other frequent causes of these strains are arthritis and poor posture.
Common symptoms and signs of a cervical strain include:
- Stiffness or spasm.
Most cervical strains will heal with proper care with no lingering issues. The majority of muscle injuries in the neck are complicated by or occur along with ligament injuries (cervical sprains).
Burners and Stingers
Burners or stingers are nerve injuries resulting from trauma to the neck and shoulder. This injury is common in contact or collision sports.
Many times, the cause of the trauma is a severe lateral flexion of the neck. Its primary symptom is burning pain radiating down one arm. The pain is sometimes accompanied by numbness, paresthesia or weakness.
Symptoms usually only last seconds to minutes but sometimes will last for hours or longer. Athletes who experience a burner should not return to play until the symptoms are gone.
More extensive medical evaluation will be required if there is lingering weakness, neck pain, symptoms in both arms or recurrent burners.
With time, these injuries heal, but physical therapy may be prescribed to regain strength and range of motion.
A herniated disc (cervical herniated nucleus pulposus) is a slipped disc in the cervical spine.
This condition occurs when the soft center of the disc is forced through a damaged part of the disc. This injury may be caused by degeneration of the disc or an injury to the cervical spine.
If the herniated disc causes pressure on the nerve root, there may be pain, numbness and weakness in the body where the nerve travels.
There may not be symptoms if the herniated disc does not press against any nerve roots, however.
Treatment begins with rest and a decrease in activity. Physical therapy may be prescribed by your doctors as well.
Cervical Spinal Stenosis
Cervical spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck. The spinal cord is contained in this canal.
Along the spinal cord, spinal nerves exit the spine and extend to the rest of the body. These nerves control sensory and motor information.
If the space in the canal gets too narrow, the spinal cord and nerves can be compressed. The most common signs and symptoms of this compression is pain, numbness, tingling and weakness.
Cervical spinal stenosis may be caused by the degeneration of the vertebral discs, arthritis or a traumatic injury to the spinal column.