The neck hurts so much!

Neck pain and stiffness is one of the earliest presentations of cervical spondylitis. Some of the characteristic features of this condition are:

  • Chronic or episodic pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulder region
  • The pain tends to get worse over a period of time
  • There may be periods initially when the pain disappears completely; later as the disease advances the pain may remain persistent
  • Pain may radiate (travel) from neck to shoulders, arms, forearms, hands, lower part of the head, upper back
  • Coughing, sneezing, other movements of the neck may worsen symptoms
  • Along with pain, there may be abnormal sensations (tingling numbness), loss of sensation, weakness in any of the above regions
  • There may be non-specific headaches in the lower part of the back of head
  • Sensation of loss of balance
  • Loss of control over the bladder or bowels (if the spinal cord is compressed)
  • Occasionally there may be atypical pain presenting as chest pain or breast pain (false angina)
  • The doctor may find certain clear pointers to this disease on examination of the patient:

    • Spasm of the neck muscles
    • Limited range of movements of the neck – bending forward, backward, sideways, rotating the head are all limited
    • Weakness of muscles of the arms, forearms
    • Altered sensation in the shoulder region, arms, forearms, neck, etc.
    • Reflexes are often reduced
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