Neck pain is a common complaint and one of the top contributors to chronic pain among adults. It can disrupt your daily life, physical activities, sleep quality, and focus. But you don’t need to suffer through it. There are non-invasive ways to help address neck pain and get you back to living pain-free.
WHAT IS NECK PAIN?
Neck pain can be categorized into two distinct areas—acute and chronic pain. Acute pain is usually caused by an injury such as whiplash or a muscle strain from sleeping awkwardly. It is characterized by sudden pain that lasts less than three months. Neck pain moves into the chronic category if it persists for more than three months, no matter the initial cause.
WHAT CAUSES NECK PAIN?
The most common causes of neck strain and pain are continuous overuse and falling asleep in awkward positions. Acute or chronic pain can develop when the neck muscles in the back of the neck are strained repeatedly.
Did you know that neck pain is the second most common non-arthritic joint pain? Your neck, or cervical spine, is responsible for holding your head, which on average, weighs 11 pounds. That’s quite a bit of weight balanced on just seven vertebrae and three muscle groups. Those vertebrae and muscles are responsible for moving your head and keeping it in place.
If the cervical vertebrae, ligaments, or muscles experience injury, abnormalities, or inflammation, neck pain or stiffness will usually result.
The nerves in the spine that branch out of your neck maintain significant motor function and sensation in the head, neck, arms, shoulders, and diaphragm. The cervical area also serves as the pathway for nerves that branch out into the lower spine and affect other parts of the body.
A wide variety of factors cause neck pain, but the main culprits are:
- Bone spurs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated cervical disc (a disc that squeezes out backward)
- Ligament sprains
- Muscle strains due to overuse, misuse, or injury
- Neck arthritis
- Pinched nerve
- Poor Posture
- Spinal stenosis
- Trauma or acute injury (motor vehicle accident, strain from heavy lifting)
- Whiplash injury
NECK PAIN FROM SUDDEN TRAUMA
Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. It is usually caused by rear-end car accidents but can also result from sports injuries or a fall. During traumas or injuries like this, the muscles and ligaments can suffer from strains and sprains. Ligaments in the neck are attached to each vertebra, which allows the spine to remain mobile yet strong. There are also several muscles within the environment responsible for spinal movement. Nerves are attached to the cervical spinal cord that exit from the spine into the skin, muscles, and upper back and neck areas.
The cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae, along with the surrounding muscles, joints, and ligaments. All of these structures are designed to give the neck and spine functionality and protection. The cervical spine is the most flexible portion of the spine because it is responsible for head and neck movement. Because of the area’s flexibility, it is susceptible to injuries such as whiplash.
NECK PAIN FROM DEGENERATION
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows, leading to nerve compression. This compression can cause various symptoms, including shooting pain, numbness, tingling, and cramping in the neck, back, legs, and arms.
Arthritis of the neck is one of the most common diseases of the cervical spine. It is caused by degeneration in the cervical spine disks due to age, overuse, or trauma. As disks degenerate, the joints in the back of the neck, called facet joints, see increased stresses causing arthritis to develop along with resulting pain.
It is common for an individual to have a combination of spinal arthritis and stenosis in the neck. Unfortunately, this results in significant neck, shoulder, and arm pain as well.
WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF NECK PAIN?
When the neck’s natural curve is not in the correct position, the spine and body don’t function optimally. Some of the symptoms that can occur:
- Decreased head/neck mobility
- Muscle tightness and spasms in the neck, shoulders, shoulder blade
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness on arm, wrist, or fingers
- Pain becomes worse when holding your head in one place for long periods (driving, working at a computer)
- Reduced range of motion
- Tingling in the arms or hands
Nerve pain and damage can occur when a disc herniates in the neck. The nerve root gets pushed or pinched, and the pain can radiate down the arm. The extremities that are affected depend on which root is being pinched. The pain can even radiate down to the thumb with a C6 nerve root compression. In certain situations, a person may have numbness, pins and needles sensation, or motor weakness. If the C7 nerve root is compressed, a person may have weakness while extending their wrist.
We can determine the root cause of the issue through a physical examination and possibly X-rays, which help us see your cervical spine and each disc’s positioning.
WHY IS THE NECK SUSCEPTIBLE TO INJURY?
The neck is one of the most complex and important structures in the human body. Understanding its unique anatomy and complex physiology is critical in providing a proper diagnosis of neck pain. Its unique combination of flexibility and support makes the neck a remarkable part of the body but susceptible to injury.
Located between each vertebra are discs that function as shock absorbers, helping prevent trauma and absorb impact to the spine. These discs are made of soft, spongy material. They are susceptible to a herniation (squeeze out backward) and cause inflammation and irritation to nerves or the spinal cord itself.
WHAT TREATMENT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE FOR NECK PAIN?
We offer several therapies that are incredibly effective in reducing and eliminating neck pain and preventing acute pain from turning chronic.
Our unique approach to treating neck pain incorporates proven modalities to provide quick, long-term relief.
Our in-office skilled practitioners collaborate on each patient case from the beginning throughout the course of treatment, determining the most effective therapies specific to each person’s unique needs.
Offering these options under one roof provides the most comprehensive, convenient care for our patients.
- Chiropractic Care
- Physical Therapy
- Pilates for strengthening
- Massage Therapy
- Laser Therapy to reduce inflammation
- Trigger Point Injections
- Regenerative Medicine
- Advanced Options
- Facet Injections
- Radio Frequency Ablation
The best way to avoid neck pain is to maintain good habits after any prescribed treatments. And the best ways to keep the neck & spine in alignment are;
- maintain good posture
- use ergonomically-sound positioning and equipment
- take frequent computer breaks
- sleep on a supportive mattress and pillow
- avoiding carrying heavy bags
- stretch and move your body every day
WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING MY FIRST VISIT?
At OC Wellness Physicians Medical Group, we offer a holistic approach to manage your neck pain. Our skilled practitioners and medical doctors work collaboratively to provide the best comprehensive patient care. We believe our patients receive better results from a combination of treatments if necessary.
But first, we want to know about you and what you are experiencing.
Here’s an overview of what to expect during your initial appointment:
- Let’s talk – we want to know how you are feeling, what you are experiencing, and what you’d like to improve.
- You’ll fill out a detailed health history.
- We will perform an examination and a series of tests.
- X-rays or other in-house imaging will be taken if needed.
- Our staff will develop an initial diagnosis.
- Our doctors will provide recommended options for a treatment plan.
- If you are using insurance, our staff will contact your insurance company about coverage. If you are not using insurance, we have flexible cash options and easy-pay financing plans available.
Your neck pain treatment will be personalized to you. Our team of providers meets twice a day to discuss patient care and create comprehensive plans that may include physical therapy, trigger point therapy, massage, and other treatment modalities.
We can treat and manage your symptoms for both immediate relief and long-term success, all in one place.
Let’s get you feeling good again!
Ready to start feeling good and living pain-free?
OC Wellness Physicians Medical Group provides comprehensive neck pain management and injury recovery programs. Our entire team is dedicated to you and living your life pain-free!