Mechanical Neck Pain Is Also Called Axial Neck Pain
Mechanical neck pain or axial cervical spine pain does not radiate into the arms or upper extremities. The pain is located in the neck, base of the skull or occipital area and the back of the shoulders.
Many times, this neck pain is associated with headaches that may radiate into the base of the skull, side of the head (temporal) or around the eyes (periorbital). These headaches are called cervicogenic or neck related headaches.
Axial neck pain may have different symptoms; it may be one side or both sides of the neck, cause headaches, stiffness and may lead to restricted motion in on or all directions in the range of neck motion. This is pain that is localized to the neck and immediate local structures, not involving radiculopathy (arms, hands, fingers) or myelopathy (spinal cord).
It is often reported by patients as pain, stiffness, or dullness and can be caused by several underlying conditions. Degenerative disc disease is thought to be a risk factor. Discs, facet joints, and neck muscles may contribute to symptoms.
Most of the cases of involve some type of damage to the muscles or other of the “soft tissues” like ligaments and relief is usually within 4-6 weeks with conservative treatment. Unfortunately, there are about 1/3 of the cases which do not see relief within this period of time and go on to be considered chronic neck pain.
It is these cases where many will seek various methods of treatment and have difficulty in coping with neck pain like chronic whiplash problems. Of the approximately 1/3 of cases which progress to the chronic stage of neck pain, about 50% of these will have headaches which radiate to the base of the skull.
There has been much effort to understand the cause(s) of mechanical neck pain, focusing on a better understanding of anatomy and neurology. Unfortunately, most of what is understood about axial neck pain is not complete or theoretical and that relates to lack of a very effective treatment that is predictable.
- A 2017 study in the Journal of Pain Research found patients with Modic changes, a rapid type of degeneration, is associated with axial neck pain in those with cervical kyphosis or reversal of the normal curve.
- A 2020 study in Musculoskeletal Science & Practice indicates women with mechanical chronic neck pain have increased activity of the superficial flexors and extensor muscles during low load tasks. The study used the deep cervical flexor exercise test as an example. This is an important exercise for relief/restoration and, although very simple, must be done correctly.
The next part focuses of the features; what your doctor will ask you and look for during an examination.
Features Neck Pain | Radiographs & Neck Pain | Cervical Strain | Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease | C4 Radiculopathy | Failed Neck Surgery | Rheumatoid Neck Disorders | Shoulder Problems | Neck Pain Summary