If someone tells you they have a "slipped disc," they are talking about a herniated disc, a fairly common condition that can cause neck pain, sometimes radiating into the arms and hands. This may be caused by poor posture or a traumatic injury.
As we get older, our discs become less flexible. They begin to shrink and the spaces between the vertebrae get narrower. Conditions that can weaken the discs in the neck include:
- Improper lifting
- Repetitive strenuous activities
Injury and inflammation around the discs may cause inflammation and compression of nearby nerves as they branch off from the spinal cord through openings in the vertebrae. This is the cause of radiating pain, tingling, numbness or strength loss down the arm and/or into the hand. This may affect grip strength or the ability of the muscles of the shoulder blade and arm to function properly.
Muscle Strain or Spasm
Muscle spasms or strains of the neck and upper back muscles are relatively common. These injuries may be caused by poor form during the swing or by not warming up properly. Most commonly, they are caused by poor posture, which results in abnormal movement patterns during golf. Symptoms may include pain and stiffness from the base of the neck to the top of the shoulder blade and, at times, radiating pain between the shoulder blades.
Facet arthropathy, a type of degenerative "wear-and-tear" arthritis, develops in the neck when the joints between two or more vertebrae in the neck become misaligned. This is often due to repetitive stress on the joints from poor posture and/or repetitive overuse. The result is a loss of motion in the neck. Spinal vertebrae above and below the level of injury may take on more load and movement and may develop abnormal postures, movement patterns and pain. This can cause localized neck pain or pain that radiates into the arm.
Spinal stenosis occurs when there is narrowing of the space around the spinal cord or the space around the openings where the nerves exit the vertebrae in the neck. This narrowing can happen due to disc degeneration or arthritic changes in the vertebrae known as facet arthropathy. The narrowing can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, and can cause radiating pain, numbness or weakness in the arms. Spinal stenosis occurs mostly in people older than 50.