Neck pain can have a variety of causes, from bad posture to tumors in the spine. Fortunately, the more common causes of neck pain can be treated and resolved.
Neck and Back Pain Causes: Whiplash and Spinal Stenosis
Whiplash happens when the head is snapped backward then forward or forward then backward. It often happens to a driver or passenger in a car that is rear-ended. It is also a risk in contact sports and amusement park rides. Women and girls are more susceptible to whiplash than men and boys.
The symptoms of whiplash are different for different patients and may develop immediately or days after the accident. In some cases, the symptoms develop weeks after the accident. Symptoms occur because the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the patient’s neck are strained or torn. They include:
• Pain in the back or front of the neck. The pain can be in the front and back of the neck simultaneously.
• Stiff neck
• Pain that may shoot down the arm, the lower back or the shoulder. An arm may also be weak, feel heavy or have numbness and tingling.
• Blurred vision
• Ringing in the ear
• Insomnia because of the pain
• Trouble concentrating
• Memory problems
This is a condition that occurs when the space in the vertebrae that allows the spinal cord to pass narrows. This compresses the cord and the roots of the nerves that radiate out of it. The symptoms of spinal stenosis often start slowly and get gradually worse. The symptoms may be intermittent and are made worse when the person stands up or walks. Symptoms include:
• Pain in the neck and shoulders. This pain occurs when the spinal stenosis affects the neck vertebrae.
• Cramping in the arms.
• The arms may also be weak or numb.
Though most people acquire spinal stenosis because of arthritis or, less commonly, a herniated disc, some people are born with it. This is called congenital/primary spinal stenosis and is rare.