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Neck Pain

Neck pain is very common and can be the result of several different things in addition can be the cause of other aches/pains one experience in their back and shoulders. Considering that the human head weighs approximately 12 pounds, this can place a lot of strain on the neck. Then if we have a forward head or slouched posture this magnifies the amount of stress at the neck, back and shoulders.

General Anatomy

Bones
Provides structural support for the body and serves as an anchor points for ligaments and tendons.

Ligaments
Ligaments are non-elastic tissues which connect one bone to another bone giving our body structure its stability. When frequently or severely injured, ligaments become "stretched out" causing the joint to become loose or more unstable. Ligaments have a poor blood supply so have a tendency to heal more slowly than other tissues. Injuries to ligaments are called "sprains".

Tendons
Tendons are elastic tissues that connect a muscle to a bone.

Muscles
Muscles are elastic tissues. Muscles and tendons work together to create the body's motion. Injuries to muscles and tendons are called "strains".

Cartilage
Cartilage is the spongy material that lines the ends of the bones. It works as the body's "shock absorber", helping to cushion the impact placed upon the bones during activity as well as directly protecting the ends of the bones. This is called articular cartilage.

Bursa
Bursa are fluid filled sacs that lie between tissues or tissues and bones preventing friction.

Bones

There are 3 primary sections of the back which contain 24 total vertebrae; there are 7 cervical vertebrae in the neck. The top two vertebrae are called the "atlas" and the "axis"; it is here that head rotation occurs. When all of the vertebrae are positioned correctly, there should be a slight curve in the neck which helps distribute stress. In cases where a person slouched or has forward head posture, the amount of strain at the neck increases significantly in addition nerves or blood vessels can become compressed creating painful symptoms.

Forward head or slouching posture: This can result in neck, back and/or shoulder pain.

Posture Diagram </> Diagram of the Spine with All Three Primary Sections Parts of the Vertebra Dangers of Forward Head Posture

Muscles

Muscle strength and flexibility plays a key role in not only how we feel, but in our posture. Because the head is relatively heavy (12 pounds), the muscles need to be strong enough to support the head throughout our daily activities. If not, the muscles then become tired and tight, we begin to slouch and this can lead to headaches, neck and back ache and even shoulder/arm/hand pain and building disks. Simple stretches and strengthening exercises can greatly help reduce neck pain.

Neck Muscles - Back View Tilted View of Neck Muscles

Nerves

The "Brachial Plexus" is a major branch of nerves that exits the neck and travels down the shoulder and arm to the hand. These nerves can become irritated at any level causing pain/numbness/tingling, etc. Even though these originate at the neck, symptoms can sometimes appear in the arm and hand. The nerves of the brachial plexus can become compressed by slouching and forward head postures.

Brachial Plexus Nerves of the Neck and Shoulder Nerves of the Shoulder, Arm and Neck Bulging Nerve