Your neck, or cervical spine, has seven small vertebrae. Amazingly, it supports your head and brain — an average of 12 pounds. Also amazingly, your neck can move your head in almost all directions.
But it’s this delicateness and this flexibility that make the neck susceptible to injury and pain.
Neck pain can be the result of injury, but it can also simply be a result of normal life — whether leaning into your computer at work or hunching over your workbench at home. And neck pain can be very troublesome. Symptoms can stretch into the upper back and arms.
As the spinal cord goes from the brain through the spine, it sends out nerve roots between the bones. The nerve roots form the nerves themselves, the nerves that go into our arms and hands. If these nerves become irritated or pinched, whether by a slipped disc, swelling or arthritic changes, the result will be arm pain.
This is sometimes caused by brachial neuralgia, often the result of a pinched nerve root in the neck. It is one of the most painful conditions we see — a deep, unrelenting ache that worsens at night.
If you can raise your arm above your head — and if that seems to lessen the pain — it can most likely be attributed to brachial neuralgia.
Tennis elbow, or golfer’s elbow, is another condition that brings people in for help. The nerve that controls the wrist is actually near the elbow. When is becomes irritated, it stiffens the elbow, making normal bending and movement painful.