The neck has 7 vertebrae each is separated by a disc which acts as a spacer and shock absorber for the spine. One vertebra will move (articulate) with its neighbouring vertebra cushioned by the disc and through adjacent vertebral joints known as facet joints. The neck is supported by ligaments and muscles. The joints of the neck [facet joints] are situated at the back of the spinal column. Each vertebra in the neck has a nerve exiting adjacent to the disc and the joint which travels.
Frequently the symptoms develop slowly with a gradual increase in pain when any or a combination of the joints, ligaments or muscles become irritated and inflamed or are injured.
Referred pain, numbness or pins and needles to the head or to the shoulder, arm and hand, is the result of a nerve being irritated or trapped as the nerve leaves the spine or the shoulder.
Whiplash Injury occurs as a result of a rear shunt in a car. The head is thrown backwards and forwards at impact, this causes a sprain to the joint’s associated ligaments, musculature. This can commonly result in headaches neck shoulder and arm symptoms . A pseudo whiplash can occur when falling during sport or stumbling.
An acutely painful neck comes on suddenly when sleeping awkwardly or by turning quickly accompanied by severe pain on movement. The cause is a sprain to one of the neck vertebral joints and acute muscle spasm.
This is simply ‘wear and tear’ of the neck with some degeneration of the structures involved. Interestingly here is no correlation with severity of spondylosis and pain.
Physiotherapists specialise in the diagnosis, management and treatment of painful conditions that affect the joints of the spine, arms and legs, as well as the associated muscles, ligaments and surrounding structures.
Chiropractors specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of painful physical conditions that are caused by poor mechanical working of the joints, and their associated ligaments, muscles, discs and nerves.