Neck pain is a very common problem that affects more than two-thirds of the population at some point in their lives. The causes of neck pain can be minor or severe. Most commonly neck pain is the result of an acute trauma or chronic stress (bad posture) that affects the muscles in the neck. Paitents may or may not be able to adequately differentiate between headache, neck pain, jaw pain, ear pain and facial pain. We want to know about all of the painful areas so we can adequatley determine where the pain orginates.
In some cases, neck pain is caused by an out of place disk or vertebrae in the cervical spine causing cervical impingement of the nerves and blood supply.
A common injury associated with neck pain and TMD is whiplash; however, TMD symptoms often don’t present themselves until after the cervical pain subsides. It is common to have symptoms consisting partially of TMD and partially of cervical pain, particularly in the patient who has suffered a whiplash type injury. Compression injuries against the vertex (top) of the skull can create cervical symptoms from cervical disk compression or from cervical facet blockade.
Neck pain can radiate to the midline of the skull extending from the base of the skull to the top of the skull to the forehead region and eyes. Patients who experience neck pain also find it difficult to rotate, extend or flex the cervical spine. If the head is held in a forward posture, cervical pain will increase.
The upper cervical spine may radiate pain into the front portion of the neck and across the jaw. The pain is contained in the fibers of the superficial cervical plexus as they course along the sternocleidomastoid muscle.
A local anesthetic injection midway down the sternocleidomastoid muscle will alleviate pain that radiates to the angle of the mandible, ear and mastoid regions.