Neck pain, (sometimes spreading to the head) normally, occurs from poor posture. If the alignment of the head and spine is not optimal, the neck can be predisposed to injury and/or the degenerative effects of wear and tear over time. The poor posture puts undue stress on the vertebras of the lower neck and causes the muscles of the upper back to continually working without balance, efficiency, fluidity. Over time, muscles simply get worn out from the stress caused by misuse — they get sore and cramp, sometimes even cause knots. Eventually this causes the body to compensate, shifting the responsibility to other muscles and joints. That compensation causes joints to move in ways that are not natural, which pinches nerves and causes pain.
Acute Cervical Sprain/Strain
The cervical spine is very susceptible to strains and sprains, because it is the most mobile segment of the spine. Luckily, they are a soft tissue injury and are easily treated. Symptoms of cervical sprains and strains are sharp pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty moving the neck. If your injury is the result of whiplash, some additional symptoms to look out for are dizziness, headache, shoulder discomfort, and difficulty when swallowing.
Commonly called a “pinched nerve”, is a damage or disturbance of nerve function that causes pain in the upper body. This can be caused from normal wear and tear of your body as you age, conditions such as arthritis, or a sudden injury. Common symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy are muscle weakness and numbness from the arm into the hand, pain radiating into the shoulder, and a tingling sensation in the shoulder, arm, or hand.
Muscle Spasm/Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Muscle spasms in the neck are involuntary contractions of the muscles, where the muscles get hard, tight, and painful. Myofascial Pain Syndrome occurs when you get repeated muscle spasms in your neck. This can be caused by stress, muscle tension, repetitive motions, and more. Some common symptoms of Myofascial Pain Syndrome and muscle spasms are a tender knot in the muscle, a persistent, aching pain that sometimes worsens, and sometimes headaches.
Wry neck / Torticollis
Wry neck is a complaint where neck pain and stiffness is developed, which is often accompanied by spasm of the surrounding neck muscles. This causes neck pain and an inability to turn your neck through its full range of motion.
Usually develops during the night or without a known cause in a sudden event. The most common cause is a locked facet joint (joints that connect the vertebra). It can also be a discogenic wry neck, meaning there is a disc injury usually a protusion which is a much more severe case at it needs medical assessment before any treatment.
Most torticollis resolve within 1-2 days with the right treatment, but it can take up to 1 week of residual symptoms to go away. If yours is taking longer than 1 day don't wait more and have it checked.