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What is the reason for shoulder and neck pain?

Q: I have severe pain in my left shoulder. I have tried using different heating cream and hot water showers. This happens to me when I carry heavy things but this time happened to me the next day after I worked in my car repairing some electrical faults. I do not know what is the exact cause of this. I went to the doctor and he gave me pain killer like only Diclofenac sodium. Now, since past three days I am having pain especially when I want to sleep since I have to move sometimes to my sides which increase the pain very much.

A:Our vertebral column (spine) is made up of bones called vertebrae, which have cartilage discs between them. These inter vertebral discs protect the vertebrae and make the spinal column flexible. A disc is made of connective tissue and has a stronger outer fibrous outer part and a softer jelly-like centre called the nucleus pulposus. The spinal cord (continuation of the brain below the skull), lies in the centre of the vertebral column. Nerves from the spinal cord come out from between the vertebrae to take and receive messages to various parts of the body. Your symptoms are suggestive of cervical (neck) spondylosis. This is a chronic degenerative condition of the cervical spine that affects the vertebral bodies & intervertebral disks of the neck and the nerve roots and/or spinal cord. Spondylosis progresses with age and often develops at multiple levels. This is usually an age-related change in which the disks and the surrounding ligaments lose their hydration and elasticity. Common clinical syndromes associated with cervical spondylosis include cervical pain (chronic pain in the lower part of head, neck or pain that radiates to back of the head, shoulder, scapula, or arm. The pain is often worse in certain positions and can interfere with sleep); cervical radiculopathy (compression of the cervical nerve roots leads to radicular pain and/or weakness) and cervical myelopathy. Treatment is usually conservative and involves immobilization of spine, traction of neck, neck exercises and application of heat to the area. Surgery is restricted to certain indications. Immobilization of the cervical spine is the mainstay of conservative treatment as it limits the motion of the neck, thereby reducing nerve irritation. Soft cervical collars are recommended for daytime use only, but can only partly restrict the movements of neck. More rigid orthoses significantly immobilize the cervical spine. The use of molded cervical pillow during sleep helps to better align the spine and provides symptomatic relief to some patients. Mechanical traction is useful as it promotes immobilization and widens the foraminal openings. The use of isometric cervical exercises is helpful in maintaining the strength of the neck muscles. Neck and upper back stretching exercises, as well as light aerobic activities are also recommended. This should be done after consulting a physiotherapist. Passive treatment like application of heat to the tissues in the neck region, either by means of superficial devices (moist-heat packs) or mechanisms for deep-heat transfer (ultrasound, diathermy) provides symptomatic relief. Manual modalities like massage, mobilization, manipulation etc. also help. This is done by a trained therapist who applies gentle pressure within or at the limits of normal motion with the aim of increasing the range of motion. Manual traction may be better tolerated than mechanical traction by some patients.

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