Cervicalgia

What is Cervicalgia?

A cervicalgia refers to a pain that occurs around the neck. This pain may extend to the head, body, or arms 1. The duration of neck pain varies according to the type of it such as acute, subacute, and Cervicalgiachronic. Acute neck pain typically lasts less than 7 days, while subacute lasts over 7 days but less than 3 months. And chronic neck pain has a duration of 3 months or more.

Symptoms of cervicalgia depend upon the extent of the injury. These includes:

  • Pain in the neck region
  • Stiffness and spasm in neck muscle
  • Radiating pain throughout the body and arms
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms
  • Weakness in the arms
  • Neck soreness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Difficulties in neck movement
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

What are the most common causes of cervicalgia?

The prevalence of cervicalgia reported about 30% among adults in the United States. Among them, about 50% of individuals may suffer from chronic neck pain 2,3. The causes of  cervicalgia include 4:

  • Muscle strains due to carrying a heavy bag over the shoulder for a long time;
  • Poor posture and awkward sleeping position;
  • Working for a long time with the neck at an uncomfortable angle;
  • Physical injuries such as car crash results in a quick backward and forward movement of the head;
  • Sports injuries cause straining of neck tissues;
  • Certain bone conditions, such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis causes tear off the cartilage in the cervical spine;
  • Diseases like meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal infection, or bone tumor;
  • Nerve compression in the vertebrae of your neck;
  • A ruptured or herniated disc in the cervical vertebrae;
  • Kyphosis, a spinal disorder that affects the posture of an individual;

How do Neurosurgeons treat cervicalgia?

Treatment of cervicalgia depends on the cause and symptoms of the patients. Most patients with cervicalgia respond well to non-surgical and conservative treatment. Patients can perform these treatments at home. The treatment protocol includes 5:

  • Medications: Medicines may include pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pain and inflammation;
  • Physical therapy: It includes mobilization exercises to strengthen the muscles of the neck;
  • Application of ice packs to the affected area for up to 15 minutes several times a day can help to reduce the inflammation;
  • Application of warm compression (heat) for up to 20 minutes can ease muscle tension and boost healing;
  • Using a neck collar will restrict the movement of the neck and support the head;
  • Stretching your neck several times a day may help to reduce the pain;
  • Acupuncture and chiropractic care show their effectiveness sometimes;

Cervicalgia will typically go away after some weeks. If the pain persists for a longer period, people should make an appointment with doctors for further decision. Neurosurgeons may suggest surgery to reduce discomfort in serious condition.

Though we can’t prevent all cases of cervicalgia, but some strategies can reduce the risk of this condition. These include:

  • Avoid activities that cause neck strain;
  • Give rest to the neck as much as possible during long time working;
  • Avoid poor posture immediately;
  • Sleep in an excellent position;
  • Avoid carrying a heavy bag over your shoulder;
  • Adjust your chair, table, and computer in an eye level to avoid neck pain;

References

  1. Misailidou V, Malliou P, Beneka A, Karagiannidis A, Godolias G. Assessment of patients with neck pain: a review of definitions, selection criteria, and measurement tools. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. 2010;9(2):49–59. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2010.03.002. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2010.03.002
  2. Fejer R, Kyvik KO, Hartvigsen J. The prevalence of neck pain in the world population: A systematic critical review of the literature. European Spine Journal. 2006;15(6):834–848. doi:10.1007/s00586-004-0864-4
  3. Genebra CVDS, Maciel NM, Bento TPF, Simeão SFAP, Vitta A De. Prevalence and factors associated with neck pain: a population-based study. Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy. 2017;21(4):274–280. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bjpt.2017.05.005. doi:10.1016/j.bjpt.2017.05.005
  4. Guzman J, Hurwitz EL, Carroll LJ, Haldeman S, Côté P, Carragee EJ, Peloso PM, van der Velde G, Holm LW, Hogg-Johnson S, et al. A New Conceptual Model of Neck Pain. Linking Onset, Course, and Care: The Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2009;32(2 SUPPL.):14–23. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2008.11.007
  5. Ylinen J, Takala EP, Nykänen M, Häkkinen A, Mälkiä E, Pohjolainen T, Karppi SL, Kautiainen H, Airaksinen O. Active Neck Muscle Training in the Treatment of Chronic Neck Pain in Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2003;289(19):2509–2516. doi:10.1001/jama.289.19.2509

 

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