Neck anatomy is a well-engineered structure of bones, nerves, muscles, ligaments and tendons. The cervical spine (neck) is delicate—housing the spinal cord that sends messages from the brain to control all aspects of the body—while also remarkably strong and flexible, allowing movement in all directions.
The neck begins at the base of the skull and through a series of seven vertebral segments connects to the thoracic spine (the upper back). With its complex and intricate construct, and the many stresses and forces that can be placed on it through a trauma or even just daily activities, the cervical spine is at risk for developing a number of painful conditions.
Seek immediate medical help if you have a fever and headache, and your neck is so stiff that you cannot touch your chin to your chest. This may be meningitis. Call your local emergency number (such as 911) or get to a hospital.
If lower back pain does not start to subside within one to two weeks, or if there are troubling symptoms, medical care should be sought. A health professional will first identify a general source of pain and then determine appropriate and effective methods of pain management.
Certain symptoms may indicate a medical emergency. While these conditions are rare, it is important to seek immediate medical attention should the any of the following symptoms accompany back pain: