The head and neck are often a place where stress accumulates the most. How we hold weight when we carry things, and even the way we sit and walk can contribute to stresses on the cervical spine. Our cervical spine is one of the most delicate areas that can suffer from injury when we’re in an accident, or even when the neck is improperly placed when we sleep. Pain in this region may be attributed to the vertebral sections known as C1-C8. The C1 vertebra is called the atlas and is at the base of the head connected to the foramen magnum (the hole the spinal cord runs through from the brain into the spinal column). The unique formation of this specific first vertebrae allows the head freedom to nod up and down. The C2 vertebra is called the axis, and is shaped with a post-like protrusion that fits into the C1 vertebra above, to allow for head turns right and left. In addition to allowing full motion for the head and neck, the cervical vertebrae serve to protect the sensitive sections of the spinal cord that help to control breathing and bowel and bladder function. Three groups of muscles, arranged in several layers, help to support the weight of the head and neck, while allowing for full motion.
Bones in our head are a combination of several pieces that were previously free moving as infants but fuse together as we grow. The brain, brain stem, and all its internal cranial nerves are protected by the skull, which is comprised of the temporal, parietal, mandibular, occipital, frontal, ethmoid and maxilla bones. Wrapping around the bones are a mass of muscles, ligaments, nerve endings, glands, blood vessels and many connective tissues. The head and neck are connected to the shoulders via the sternocleidomastiod, trapezius, levator scapulae, and other smaller muscles. It’s understandable to feel pain in the head and neck, as well as the shoulder, due to the complex arrangement of these muscle groups.
Common Head Ailments We Treat
- Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain
- Bell’s Palsy
- Movement Disorder
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
The neck has the same components as the mid and lower back–intervertebral discs create cushion between vertebrae, and provide space for nerves to run from the spinal cord to the arms. Facet joints on the vertebra allow bones to glide smoothly against one another for comfortable, cushioned movement. As we age, these bones can become brittle, wearing on the cartilage and fibrous intervertebral discs designed to absorb shock in the neck during movements. Our muscles are prone to atrophy if they’re not properly stretched or exercised, and when we have poor posture. The longer these muscles remain neglected, the more they deteriorate, becoming stiff and thinned, making them susceptible to injury and acute or chronic pain.
At In Motion O.C., many of the clients that come in with back pain and headache concerns are actually referring to neck pain or a combination of neck and back strain. We will go through the common causes of neck pain and how you can try to reduce the pain with at home enhanced physical therapy exercises dictated by our Doctors of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.).
Common Causes Of Neck Pain
If these exercises aren’t working for you, or you find difficulty performing them, please call In Motion O.C. to schedule your physical therapy consultation with one of our dedicated and skilled physical therapists today at 949.861.8600. Your pain doesn’t have to last forever, live pain-free with In Motion O.C.