Neck Pain

What causes Neck Pain?
Neck pain may result from abnormalities in the soft tissues – the muscles, ligaments, and nerves – as well as in bones and joints of the spine. The most common causes of neck pain are soft tissue abnormalities due to injury or prolonged wear and tear. In rare cases, infection or tumors may cause neck pain. In some people, neck problems may be the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders or arms.

Degenerative and inflammatory diseases – Degenerative diseases that cause neck pain include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in older people as a result of wear on the joints between the bones in the neck. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause destruction of the joints of the neck. Both of these major types of arthritis can cause stiffness and pain.

Injury – Because the neck is so flexible and because it supports the head, it is extremely vulnerable to injury. Motor vehicle or diving accidents, contact sports, and falls may result in neck injury.

Much less common causes of neck pain include tumors, infections, or congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae.
When should you seek medical care?

If severe neck pain occurs following an injury, medical care should be sought immediately. Immediate medical care should also be sought when an injury causes pain in the neck that radiates down the arms and legs.

If there has not been an injury, you should seek medical care when neck pain is:

    continuous and persistent

  • severe
  • accompanied by pain that radiates down the arms or legs
    accompanied by headaches, numbness, tingling, or weakness

Who can Treat Neck Pain?
Many patients seek chiropractic care for neck pain, because chiropractors are specifically trained in the workings of the musculoskeletal system, including the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of problems involving the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments and tendons.

How do they Diagnose Neck Pain?
Determining the source of the pain is essential to recommend the right method of treatment and rehabilitation. Therefore a comprehensive examination, consisting of a complete history and physical examination, is required to determine the cause of neck pain.

X-ray studies often will be done to allow your chiropractor to look closely at the bones in your neck. These simple diagnostic techniques often help chiropractors to determine the cause of neck pain and to prescribe effective treatment. Patients who require further evaluation may undergo one or more of the following examinations:

  • MRI . This non X-ray study allows an evaluation of the spinal cord and nerve roots.
  • CT. This specialized X-ray study allows careful evaluation of the bone and spinal canal.
  • Myelogram. This specific X-ray study also allows careful evaluation of the spinal canal and nerve roots.
  • EMG. This test evaluates nerve and muscle function.

What is the Treatment?
How neck pain is treated depends on what the diagnosis reveals. However, most patients are treated successfully with chiropractic care, rest, immobilization, rehabilitation, exercise, activity modifications or a combination of these methods.

Very few patients require surgery to relieve neck pain. Surgery may be necessary to reduce pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root when pain is caused by a herniated disk or bony narrowing of the spinal canal. Surgery may also be required following an injury, to stabilize the neck and minimize the possibility of paralysis such as when a fracture results in instability of the neck.