Information for Patients
Neck Injuries and Disorders
Any part of your neck - muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, or nerves - can cause neck problems. Neck pain is very common. Pain may also come from your shoulder, jaw, head, or upper arms.
Muscle strain or tension often causes neck pain. The problem is usually overuse, such as from sitting at a computer for too long. Sometimes you can strain your neck muscles from sleeping in an awkward position or overdoing it during exercise. Falls or accidents, including car accidents, are another common cause of neck pain. Whiplash, a soft tissue injury to the neck, is also called neck sprain or strain.
Treatment depends on the cause, but may include applying ice, taking pain relievers, getting physical therapy or wearing a cervical collar. You rarely need surgery.
Spinal Cord Diseases
Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs down the middle of your back. It carries signals back and forth between your body and your brain. It is protected by your vertebrae, which are the bone disks that make up your spine. If you have an accident that damages the vertebrae or other parts of the spine, this can also injure the spinal cord. Other spinal cord problems include
- Infections such as meningitis and polio
- Inflammatory diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy
Symptoms vary but might include pain, numbness, loss of sensation and muscle weakness. These symptoms can occur around the spinal cord, and also in other areas such as your arms and legs. Treatments often include medicines and surgery.