Cervical Strain Or Neck Strain Is A Common General Diagnosis That Can Be Related To Different Factors
A common diagnosis for mechanical neck pain is cervical strain, which is attributed to injury to the soft tissues of the neck. These soft tissues are muscles, tendons and ligaments. This type of injury can result from a motor vehicle collision and is termed whiplash and the collection of symptoms called whiplash associated disorders.
It may be that muscle or ligament injury causes blood vessels to tear and form areas of blood accumulation or hematomas within the muscle tissue. This may irritate the muscles and cause pain and spasm. The hematomas may cause scar tissue to form or a fibrosis response, which can alter the muscle structure and cause changes in the soft tissues resulting in continued pain and spasm. Changes in muscles have been seen on MRI scans in patients with chronic mechanical neck pain.
There are indications that injury to the joints behind the body of the spinal bones are related to the pain of whiplash and cervical strain. This is often called facet joint syndrome. It is also possible that the capsule surrounding the joint gets stretched or torn and causes pain. Studies have shown that stimulation of the joints produces mechanical type neck pain.
Another cause of pain related to cervical strain is the disc. Small tears in the outer part of the disc called the annulus may cause an unstable area and place pressure on the joints resulting in pain. The disc itself is pain sensitive and analgesic injections into the disc have resulted in temporary relief of mechanical neck pain symptoms.
The exact cause of cervical strain is not quite clear at the present time. Cervical strain is common and clear features on examination and radiographs are generally not found.
It is not understood why some people with cervical strain or whiplash improve within a short period of time, while other do not and suffer chronic neck pain. The most likely explanation is that cervical strain has many factors involved, including social and psychological influences in addition to the biomechanical and biochemical.
Most often there are findings of tenderness along the muscles and reduced motion without any neurological problems. Certain areas of muscle soreness called trigger points can be very sensitive to pressure.
The next part focuses on cervical degenerative disc disease which is a possible result of cervical strain that persists and results in progressive neck pain.
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