Cervicalgia: A cause for concern or not?

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What is cervicalgia?

Cervicalgia is a common problem all throughout the world. Cervicalgia is a kind of neck pain that does not radiate outwards anywhere except for the arms.

Cervicalgia is different from neck strain and neck strains are short-lived and can be healed quickly while cervicalgia takes a long time to heal.

Talking generally, a pain in the neck might sound very normal but cervicalgia can be severe as well and it can attack a person in any age though people above 40 are more likely to experience it.

It is very easy to diagnose cervicalgia, but it can be quite hard to treat it and it can be painful as well.

What are the symptoms of cervicalgia?

The pain from cervicalgia does not reach outwards and stays within the neck.

The causes of cervicalgia include a person having a stiff neck or when a person has a problem turning his head due to severe pain or extremely tight muscles. When a person experiences this, it means that they have cervicalgia.

Another symptom of cervicalgia is having a very sharp pain in the neck when you turn your head suddenly. The pain might go away then as you relax.

The pain can be severe or might be light sometimes and may easily go away. Other times, you might need medical assistance to cure it.

Massaging the neck at the time of pain might not be such a great idea as it may make the pain worse.

Apart from these symptoms, other symptoms of cervicalgia include headaches and neck stiffness, a burning sensation in your back as well as pain and severe ache in your upper back.

If you feel these symptoms are too strong it is advised to seek medical help.

Causes of cervicalgia

There are many causes of cervicalgia, the most common ones being:

Any injury

This is the most common cause of cervicalgia and it is caused when you have been in a severe accident such as a car accident.

It can even be caused if you are involved in sports activity and you strain your neck while playing basketball or soccer.

If you face a severe accident it is very necessary that you consult a doctor immediately.

Neck strain

Sports or injuries from an accident can develop into small tears in your muscles which cause the muscles to be stiff and tighten them and even sometimes swell.

Sometimes, these tears might heal themselves and you can easily get relief but sometimes they might be too severe and not heal on their own.

The most obvious tears develop in the trapezius muscle and the levator scapulae muscle.

Stress: Stress is the most common cause of neck pain associated with cervicalgia. People who take a lot of stress often feel severe pain in their neck muscles and it might get worse with time and develop into a habitual pain.

Some people have a habit of clenching their neck muscles whenever they are in a stressful situation. This can lead to extremely exhausted muscles.

Your workplace ergonomics and your chair

Although this might seem normal it is very true that your chair on which you sit for long hours has a natural contribution to pain in your back and neck.

Even your pillow has a contribution towards the pain. Often patients who are diagnosed with cervicalgia are suggested buying a memory pillow to avoid this problem.

Your office chair can be a cause towards cervicalgia. Without a properly ergonomically setup, it is very pertinent that you might develop both neck and back pain.


This condition is also known as cervical posture syndrome and affects normally to people who are involved too much in sports such as athletes, cyclists, bodybuilders, and those who play basketball.

People with kyphosis have this habit of keeping their chins forward while their shoulders are rounded forward which makes their shoulder blades to come out of their spines.

With repetitive movements of the same posture like cyclists, athletes, and bodybuilders, this can develop into a severe pain in the neck causing cervicalgia which will then need to be treated.

Tight muscles

When the muscles in our back and neck become tight they prevent the blood from circulating which reduces the nutrients to reach our muscles which eventually weakens our muscles and tightens them further.

This condition might be either caused by a bad sitting posture, poor ergonomics or either kyphosis.

When you are in a training session or have been involved in a sports activity it is very necessary to stretch your muscles or else it can develop into cervicalgia.

After a heavy workout, it is important to stretch your muscles so that they loosen up or else they will tighten up and cause you pain.

What is a Cervicalgia

How can cervicalgia be treated?

The treatment of cervicalgia varies from person to person depending upon the severity of the condition.

If a person faces an accident or an injury, first apply ice on your neck to loosen up the muscles, if it is minor pain it might go away with it but if the pain is severe you must consult a doctor.

The initial treatment of cervicalgia might be some painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets which you can even take at your home and try if the pain subsides this way.

If your neck muscles are too stiff your doctor might advise you to wear a collar which will support your neck and head and will make your muscles rest and heal quickly.

Sometimes, neck pain might not be because of an injury. It might simply be because of stress and when that happens you can simply take precautions in your own home by taking any painkillers such as ibuprofen which will reduce the swelling and loosen up your muscles.

An ice pack or else a heating pad on your neck might also reduce the problem. You can even apply some healing and anti-inflammatory creams on your concerned area and give a massage, so it might be soothing.

It is necessary to note that if you spend a long time in your chair working at home or in your office then must take precautions to avoid getting cervicalgia.

Make sure that your back is supported well, your posture is right, your feet are on the floor and your arms and elbows can rest on the chair. If your desk is high you need to put your legs on a foot rest.

Make sure that you give your neck a massage and stretch your muscles if you have kyphosis to prevent the muscles from tightening up.

Often kyphosis occurs if you stand or are working too much for a long time in the same position.

Sometimes the pain goes away with the change of position but sometimes you need medication.

However, cervicalgia must not be taken lightly and if the problem and pain does not go away with anti-inflammatory tablets or with hot or cold packs, you need to consult your doctor and get the necessary treatment done.

Cervicalgia, musculoskeletal problems, and cardiovascular problems

In a few cases, cervicalgia might cause musculoskeletal problems such as Ra, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, ankylosing etc. Most of the time, these lead to pain in the arms, hands and the shoulders.

In a few cases, cervicalgia might also occur due to an infection in the spine or because of a trauma. If there is a tumor in the spine, even that is the cause of cervicalgia.

However, in other cases, cervicalgia is not at all because of the spine but it is instead because of the cardiovascular, respiratory or gastro problems.

Some people might experience acid reflux problems in the neck instead of their lower chest and if the acid reflux is chronic it can damage the esophagus which can be quite dangerous.

If the blood vessels are compressed, they can cause severe pain in the neck and can cause cervicalgia. Respiratory infections, congestion, and problems like swelling can also cause neck pain.

If a person has a severe cough and has a few problems in the respiratory system, the cough may strain the muscles in the neck and it can also cause pressure on the cervical spine which can cause cervicalgia.

Coexisting symptoms that accompany cervicalgia

Although it is true that neck pain is only associated with cervicalgia, a person may feel some other symptoms with it as well. These symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Dizziness
  • Disturbance in the vision
  • Neck Spasm

It is diagnosed that people who are diagnosed with cervicalgia also face problems such as chest pain, syncope or a migraine.

People who face cervicalgia find that they have restricted movement of their necks and often people who are aged often experience cervicalgia than the younger ones.

Often tender points in the neck or between the shoulders might be a sign of cervical though in some cases these might even be because of some muscle injury or fibromyalgia.

Cervicalgia physical exercises to treat neck pain

Neck exercises are common treatments in order to solve cervicalgia neck pains. Some exercises are done in order to treat neck pain.

Neck stretches

Poor body postures can really cause pain in your neck. Neck strengthening exercises are done in order to release the stiffness in the muscles. Neck stretching should be done every day even more than one time a day.

Strengthening of the neck

Some neck strengthening exercises are done to improve the posture of the neck in order to improve the pain in the neck.

It is a general rule that neck strengthening exercises should be done every other day for the muscles to repair themselves.

Aerobic conditioning

Aerobic exercises involve a good and steady intake of oxygen which increase the flow of blood to the muscles and soft tissues of the neck and the upper back.

This aerobic exercise prevents the muscles and tissues from getting tight and stiff. It is recommended to do aerobic exercise for at least 25 to 30 minutes in order to treat this problem of neck pain.

Some good options for aerobic exercise include using a treadmill, stationary bike, or an arm bike and many sports activities.

If you cannot do exercise, it is recommended to go for a walk every day.

What is cervicalgia radiculopathy?

Cervicalgia radiculopathy is a kind of pain which results from an irritation in the nerve in the cervical spine of the neck.

When any nerve in the cervical spine is irritated it will cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the shoulder, arms, hand and the neck.

The herniated disc is one of the causes of cervicalgia radiculopathy which occurs when the inner material of the cervical disc leaks out and causes inflammation.

Cervical spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal joints face changes which leads to the tightening of space in the spinal canal. This problem usually occurs in people aged over 60.

Cervical degenerative disc disease occurs when the disc in the cervical spine flattens out and does not support the spine.

This can also cause inflammation to the nearby areas. This problem is common among people aged 50 or above.

Cervicalgia- An overview

Cervicalgia, on the whole, might not seem that dangerous but it can develop into something dangerous and can cause severe problems provided it is not treated well.

Regular exercising, good sitting postures, and some other factors should be taken into consideration to avoid pains associated with the neck.

Mild cervicalgia pains in the neck can be treated in the home, but if the problem persists and is not solved at home and if the pain does not go away with healing creams and hot or cold pads, you should immediately seek medical advice.

You should be concerned for your own health and should take care of yourself to avoid getting neck pains.

You should also perform regular exercises of your neck in order to avoid getting pain and make sure that your sitting posture is in a way as to avoid cervicalgia.