The seven vertebrae that make up the cervical spine are connected through a series of joints. These joints allow the neck to turn and bend, and the complex system of muscles that surround it, control movement and protect the area from injury. These muscles are arranged in several layers. Not only do these muscles need to move and protect the cervical spine, but they also must control the weight of the head. The health of the neck depends on the interactions between muscles to move and stabilize each joint in our neck, and properly move and position the head.
There are a variety of situations that can cause neck pain. For example, poor or prolonged postural strain that occurs with computer use and desk jobs, repetitive use with certain sports, muscle imbalances, or previous injury such as car accidents can all affect the normal function of the joints and muscles resulting in excessive strain to the area.
The root cause of many upper extremity complaints can also arise from problems at the neck and cervical spine. The nerves that supply our upper extremity exit from the cervical spine and must pass through and around several soft tissue before they reach the muscles that they control and sense. Pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness of the upper extremity can be a result of nerve entrapment in and close to the neck.