4 Common Causes of Neck Pain, Part 1

During our lifetimes, we may put our necks through repeated stress without even realizing it. In fact, sometimes these injuries do not even cause pain at the time they occur. Repeated injuries can add up, resulting in degeneration of the cervical spine and causing neck pain.
If you have chronic neck pain, your physician will need to work with you to find both the cause and a solution. To help prepare you for your visit, here are the first two of four common causes of neck pain.
Mechanical Neck Pain                                                          
If you have a chronic neck ache, it may be the result of degenerative disc disease and arthritis of the facet joints of the cervical spine. This pain is often referred to as mechanical pain because it gets worse as we use our neck more and comes from the mechanical parts that allow us to move our head around. Pain generates from the inflamed facet joints and from the degenerated disc, causing cramping and spasms.
Degenerative Disc Disease
When we age, our disc loses some of its water content, and therefore, loses some of its shock absorbing ability. Think about how a sponge bounces back easily when pressed between your hands as long as it is wet. But, when it dries out, it becomes less bouncy, and it doesn’t give as much between your hands.
That is similar to how a disc works. And, when it is stressed, it can develop tears in the outer ring, called the annulus. These tears can result in a build-up of scar tissue, which is weaker than normal, healthy tissue. Eventually, the disc wears down and starts to collapse, which affects the way the facet joints in the spine align. When this happens, you face abnormal pressure on the articular cartilage (causing osteoarthritis) and even bone spurs, which can lead to a condition called spinal stenosis.
In next week’s post, we’ll discuss spinal stenosis, as well as a few types of pinched nerves that can also cause neck pain.