Posted by: Dr James Tan Siah Heng
The neck (or cervical spine) performs a very important function of supporting the head and allowing full motion of the neck yet it must also protect the delicate spinal cord
Know your neck
Your neck bone consists of seven individual vertebrae with a soft cushion (disc) between each of them. Every time your nod or shake your head, these vertebral and disc work together to allow the neck movement and at the same time, protects the spinal cord. Muscles of your back of the skull, upper back and your shoulders are attached to these neck bones.
Causes of Neck Pain
There are many structures in the neck that can result in neck ache and pain. These are the common causes:
When is it serious?
Most of the time, the pain is self limiting – meaning that it will reduce over time with simple medications like paracetamol or NSAIDs with simple stretching exercises. It becomes serious when you have one or more of the following symptoms:
What are the treatment options?
The main aim of the doctor would be to exclude serious conditions that can cause permanent damage. He will go through the history and performed an examination including a neurological examination to determine the state of the spinal cord and nerves.
The next step is imaging studies. There are several alternatives available:
Treatment is always conservative first before resorting to surgery. Conservative options include:
Surgical options include: