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Neck pain affects millions of people each year. Most common causes of pain are muscle strains or ligament sprains due to prolonged poor posture or rapid changes in head movement. Many causes of neck pain will heal with non-surgical options and time.
The cervical spine consists of 7 vertebra (bones) and 8 cervical nerve roots. These nerves supply sensory and motor function to the upper limbs, shoulder and assist in breathing. Each cervical nerve root exits the spine between two cervical vertebra. The nerve roots are named based on the lower cervical vertebra (example - C4 nerve root exits between C3 and C4 cervical vertebra).
Common causes of neck pain
Motor vehicle accidents - Whiplash
Sleeping in an awkward position
Looking down while texting - Text Neck
Rapid changes in head movement - Sports related
Sneezing, Coughing or Straining
Sedentary desk work with improper computer set-up
Stress and Anxiety
Picture taken from - http://www.orthoanswer.org/spine-neck/fracture-cervical/index.html
Image taken from - https://musculoskeletalkey.com/minimally-invasive-posterior-cervical-laminoforaminotomy/
Nerve roots can be irritated by the many structures in the neck. Depending on which nerve/nerves are affected one will experience different sensory and motor deficits.
C1-C3 provide motor control to the head allowing you to move your head forward, backwards, side to side and rotate. They also provide sensation to the to the head and face. When one of these nerves are affected you may experience a sore and stiff neck, decreased range of motion or sensory loss to your head or face.
C4 provides motor and sensation to the lower part of the neck and upper part of the shoulders and assists in diaphragmatic breathing.
C5 provides motor and sensation the the upper shoulder and along the outside of the arm to the elbow. A problem with this nerve will cause an inability to elevate your shoulders or feel sensation to the outside of your arm.
C6 provides motor and sensory down the outside of the forearm to the thumb. A problem with this nerve will show decreased strength with wrist extension and forearm flexion.
C7 provides motor and sensation from the shoulder down the back of the arm to the middle finger. A problem with this nerve will cause difficulty with wrist flexion and elbow extension.
C8 provides motor and sensation down the inside of the forearm to the pinky and 4th finger. A problem with this nerve will cause a difficulty flexing your fingers.