By Dr. Gautam R Prasad, Orthopaedics
Neck pain, neck stiffness, decreased range of motion of neck etc. are all pointers to some abnormality around the neck. The neck region is one of the most vulnerable and complex regions in terms of muscles, tendons and bony parts. The cervical region of the spine as well as a number of muscles and ligaments support the neck. The cervical spine consists of 7 vertebrae. Any injury or even wear and tear to any of the vertebra can lead to a number of difficulties including neck pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion.
However, the musculature of the area can also contribute to neck pain and stiffness. It is necessary to differentiate between different factors that may cause neck pain, stiffness and restricted range of motion.
● This is one of the most common causes of neck problems. People using computers, sitting on desks etc. mostly experience such problems. People who use their neck to perform various strenuous jobs are also susceptible to such problems.
● This can happen at any age, especially in people of working age.
● The pain arises out of inflammation of the trapezius muscle. It is a large muscle which arises from just below the head towards the back. It performs many vital functions like lifting the head up, shrugging off the shoulder.
● Inflammation of this muscle can cause severe spasms in the neck as well as pain and stiffness around the neck and upper back area.
● The pain usually lasts for a few days, such as between 3 to 5 days.
● The most significant contributing factors for the pain are fatigue and stress to the muscle. Bad posture may also contribute to it.
● This is also known as cervical arthritis and it mostly affects people older than 60 years. In fact, about 85% of those who are 60 years or older are affected.
● It causes neck pain and stiffness, although every person suffering from this problem may not experience any noticeable symptom.
● It is caused by normal degenerative changes occurring in the spine due to aging.
● As people age, the vertebrae in the spine begins to dry. This makes them lose height and bulge. This may cause loss of disk space and height.
● The slippery cartilages that act between two vertebrae and help in smooth movement also undergo degeneration.
● If these cartilaginous structures completely wear out, it may result in bones rubbing on each other.
● Both trapezitis and cervical spondylosis can cause neck pain, stiffness and restricted range of motion. However, trapezitis is mostly known to be an occupational hazard since it most occurs in those who do desk job or computer job. It is mostly managed with conservative treatment like physical therapy, massage, breathing exercises, postural changes etc.
● Cervical spondylosis is a typical age-related problem. Conservative treatments can offer some relief, but one may have to take medicines too. In extreme cases surgery is suggested.