Neck conditions can be extremely painful, and effect most aspects of your daily life, from simple things like turning your head, lying in bed, or working on your computer, to more stressful physical activity like exercising. This article will help you understand what may have caused the pain, how to diagnose the problem, as well as your treatment options and how to get neck pain relief.
There are the obvious traumatic causes of neck pain like motor vehicle accidents and falls which cause a violent flicking of your head, leading to an acceleration / deceleration injury which often bends your spine into an abnormal position. This spinal trauma creates spinal joint inflammation and muscle spasm, and sometimes intervertebral disc compression can lead to a bulging disc (slipped disc) which gives you neurological symptoms like pain, burning, numbness or weakness down the arms/hands. Whiplash is the term which describes this type of neck injury and the resulting pain and stiffness, and is one of the main conditions treated by a Chiropractor.
By far the most common cause of neck pain visits to a Chiropractor is from the stress and strain of daily life. The factors leading to this type of pain mainly include the following:
There is a common misconception that every ache or pain in the body is muscular in origin. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The soft tissues could definitley be involved in your problem (muscles, tendons or ligaments), but there are other tissues in the neck which could easily be the source of your pain, like the cervical spinal joints, intevertebral discs and spinal nerves.
As a general rule of thumb, soft tissue problems in the neck cause short term pain, hours to days. When a problem has been going on for weeks, months or years it’s generaly spinal in origin. Quite simply, muscles don’t usually cause pain for prolonged periods of time, but spinal problems nearly always do. Muscular neck problems don’t directly cause internal cervical spinal problems, but if you have a spinal problem you will almost certainly have an associalted muscle spasm, your body’s natural muscular response to the spinal condition.
When neck pain has been around for weeks or longer, be sure to to shift your focus away from the muscles and get your spine assessed by a Chiropractor or Neurosurgeon, the spinal focussed practitioners.
There are 4 pillars to making the correct neck pain diagnosis:
There are lots of different soft tissue (muscle) practitioners in health care, but not many spinal focused practitioners. If your muscular diagnosis is not responding well to treatment, or If your diagnosis is uncertain and needs an X-ray or MRI scan to further understand your neck pain, make sure you get help from a Chiropractor and/or Neurosurgeon.
The treatment you receive for your neck pain should be 100% dependant on the diagnosis that was made. There are many treatments worldwide for neck pain, but the procedures mentioned below are the most used, have the highest success rate, and are backed by the most science.
As mentioned in the diagnosis section above, due to the nature of spinal conditions almost always causing soft tissue spasm around the problem area, spinal focussed practitioners will often perform one or more of the above mentioned soft tissue procedures in conjunction with the cervical spinal treatment. However, if the spinal problem is successfully treated, the body would have no need to hold those surrounding muscles in spasm, and the soft tissues will almost always settle down on their own, without any direct treatment.