Neck pain result from a variety of causes such as strained muscles, wear and tear on the joints and spine, compressed or irritated spinal nerves, and injury. The most common conditions we treat are listed below.
- Cervical Sprain / Strain
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Herniated Disc / Disc Bulge
- Facet Syndrome
Cervical Strain / Sprain
Cervical Strain/Sprain strains and sprains account for most acute neck pain. Sprains are caused by overstretching or tearing of the ligaments, and strains are microtears in tendon or muscle. Both can occur from lifting improperly overhead or overstretching. A chronic (long-term) strain usually results from overuse after prolonged, repetitive movement of the muscles and tendons. Such movements may also trigger spasms or cramping in neck muscles, which can also be painful.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Disc Disease is a thinning of the rubbery cartilage (intervertebral discs) between the spinal vertebrae. Spinal discs act as cushions between the bony vertebrae and allow mobility of the spine. Symptoms of disc degeneration include chronic neck pain, which may radiate to the shoulder, or pain between the shoulder blades. The pain may be felt, or may even increase while sitting, bending, lifting or twisting.
Herniated Disc / Disc Bulge
A herniated disc results from a tear in the fibrous outer casing of an intervertebral disc. This tear allows the softer, central portion of the disc to bulge out. Disc bulge occurs when a disc is irritated or bulging, but not herniated. Symptoms of a herniated disc can vary depending on the location of the hernia and the type(s) of soft tissue that are involved. If the disc is the only tissue injured there is often little or no pain, but if nerve roots are irritated or impinged by the herniated material, neck pain can be unrelenting.
Often, herniated discs are not diagnosed immediately because patients come for treatment of undefined pains in the shoulder, elbow, or hand. Other symptoms of a herniated disc may include sensory changes such as numbness, tingling, muscular weakness, paralysis, and altered reflexes.
Repetitive postures, such as sitting at a desk or driving a car can lead to poor blood circulation, muscle fatigue and imbalance, and improper alignment. Over time, these muscle imbalances and changes in alignment can cause postural pain.
The first step in our treatment plan for postural pain includes diagnosing and, to the extent possible, alleviating, the primary cause(s) of the pain. This may include suggesting changes to a patient’s workstation or environment, encouraging short breaks from a repetitive job or hobby, or meditation to reduce stress.
Whiplash is a non-medical term describing a range of injuries to the neck caused by the head suddenly snapping forward and back again (as often occurs when a vehicle has been hit from behind). Whiplash may also occur as the result of a cycling or equestrian accident, or high fall. Symptoms usually include pain and aching to the neck and back, and headaches. Patients suffering from whiplash may also experience referred pain in the shoulders, and sensory disturbances (such as pins and needles) in the arms and legs.
Although there are many causes of headaches, cervicogenic headaches and tension headaches are the two most common types we treat. Cervicogenic headaches originate from disorders of the neck and cervical nerve roots. Tension headaches are caused by tightening of the muscles in the face, neck and scalp due to stress and/or poor posture. Both types of headaches may occur intermittently or may be chronic.
- Cervicogenic Headache
- Tension Headache
Cervicogenic headaches are usually triggered by abnormal neck movement and/or sustained awkward head positioning. In addition to the headache, symptoms may include a restricted range of motion and pain in the neck, shoulder or arm. We treat cervicogenic headaches with techniques such as manual therapy and ART (active release technique). These therapies are successful in many cases.
Tension headaches account for nearly 90% of all headaches. Stress, poor posture and inadequate rest may all contribute to the onset of a tension headache. The most common symptom of a tension headache is pain, which may radiate from the neck, back and eyes due to tightening of facial, neck and scalp muscles.
The first step in our treatment plan for tension headaches includes diagnosing and, to the extent possible, alleviating, the root cause(s) of the tension headaches. This may include suggesting changes to a patient’s workstation or environment, encouraging short breaks from a repetitive job or hobby, and practicing meditation to reduce stress.