Neck pain: causes
Neck pain is widespread. Almost everyone gets them at some point. According to estimates, this torment hits about every third German citizen once a year. Women more often than men. Normally, neck pain is not serious. Within one to two weeks they usually go away again. In some cases the pain becomes chronic.
In general, the risk of neck pain increases with age. This is because the risk of signs of wear and tear such as osteoarthritis, but also of slipped discs or osteoporosis increases after the age of 50.
Ultimately, the causes of neck pain are many and varied. They range from harmless tension to serious illness.
- It is not uncommon to find no cause for neck pain that can be treated. Then experts speak of “non-specific pain”.
- If doctors find a cause for the pain in the neck, the complaints fall into the category “specific pain”.
Muscle tension as a cause of neck pain
The most common cause of neck pain is muscle tension, which is caused by weak or overstrained neck muscles. Almost everybody knows such situations:
- Anyone who works at a computer for a long time with their head stretched out or exposes themselves to cool draughts at an open window risks a stiff neck.
- Waking up in the morning with neck pain is usually due to the fact that one has “embarrassed” oneself in sleep.
- The overload of the cervical spine became known as “cell phone neck”. The trigger is a head position bent forward, which is adopted when looking at the smartphone. In the long run, this tilted position overtaxes the neck.
- Craftsmen who spend hours “overhead” painting ceilings or pruning trees suffer more often from neck pain.
- In addition, some sports put a strain on the neck muscles, such as breaststroke. Cycling can also cause neck pain if you choose a position bent low over the handlebars and have to raise your head in traffic to get a clear view.
- Last but not least, the psyche also plays a role in neck pain. Stress in everyday life and at work, mental strain, conflicts or fears lead to an increase in muscle tone.
Often the pain is not limited to the neck, but spreads to the shoulders. If the pain radiates to the back of the head, headaches develop.
Neck pain: Causes can be injuries
A sore neck can also be caused by injuries. Some examples:
- Whiplash, for example after a rear-end collision: The head is thrown back and forth by the jerky impact. Powerful acceleration forces act on the head. The neck muscles are overstretched, pulled or small tears occur. Often the head can hardly be moved at times. It is not uncommon for other symptoms to occur, such as dizziness, headaches or impaired vision. However, doctors now only use the previously widespread neck braces in cases of serious injuries. The immobilization of the head promotes the chronification of the pain. It seems better to go about everyday life normally with the help of painkillers. Usually the symptoms subside within a few days or weeks.
- After a fall or sports accident, neck pain often occurs when the muscles and ligaments have been overstretched. In this case, you should have the symptoms clarified by a doctor. If you experience numbness, severe headaches or clouding of consciousness in addition to the neck pain, it is better to call the emergency doctor.