neck-pain-woman-mfOne of the most common reasons a patient attends our office is for neck pain.  Whether acute or chronic in nature, those suffering from this condition can attest to the dreadful discomfort experienced.  Symptoms occur when simply turning your head, while sleeping, during the work day, when driving, and well……just about any time you move!

To makes things worse, neck pain can also trigger headaches, migraines, numbness/tingling to the upper extremities, and referred pain and discomfort into the upper back.

So what causes NECK PAIN?  Here is a short list of common causes:

  •  Muscles Spasms
  • Active Trigger Points (irritable knots in a muscle that tend to refer pain to other anatomic regions)
  • Shortened or lengthened muscles
  • Trauma, such as with whiplash after a car accident
  • Neoplasms  (tumors, growths, etc.)
  • Irritation of a nerve root (“pinched nerve”)
  • Infections
  • Degeneration
  • Posture issues
  • Chronic inflammation that is secondary to any of the above

As with any medical condition, failure of your symptoms to subside within a reasonable time frame would indicate that a comprehensive evaluation be in order

Here at Performance Chiropractic, our first order of priority is to correctly diagnose your condition.  To do so, we use the following tools:

  1. A  comprehensive orthopedic and neurological evaluation  – includes assessment of posture, range of motion, cranial nerve evaluation, reflexes, general nerve function, muscle function, identification of trigger points, assessment of shortened/lengthened muscles, and more.
  2. Imaging studies when needed (such as X-ray or MRI) – helps assess posture, abnormal spinal curvatures, level of degeneration (bone spurs, disc decay), identification of abnormal growths, etc.
  3. Lab Work, as indicated – to assess general health status, inflammatory markers, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, etc.
  4. Over a decade and a half of clinical experience – Experience is a must!

A comprehensive evaluation as noted above allows us to correctly identify the cause of your NECK PAIN and thereby, increase our chances of treating it appropriately and effectively.

Unfortunately for those who suffer from this condition, the typical route of taking medication as the only form of intervention often fails.  One of the main reasons for this is that the origin of the neck pain is commonly STRUCTURAL in nature.

For example, it is quite typical to see a patient’s cervical x-ray reveal a partial or complete loss of the normal cervical curve. This can happen from chronic strain issues such as is seen with individuals who perform specific repetitive-type motions, like looking down at a computer all day long, or from a specific injury, such as what happens with whiplash after a car accident.

In either case, when the normal structure of the cervical spine is altered, abnormal stresses to those joints and tissues then begins.  Over time, this abnormal pressure can then cause arthritic changes , seen as bony spurs in the vertebrae, degeneration or thinning in the disc, pinching of a nerve, or as deterioration of the ligaments, tendons, or muscles.

A chemical solution, such as oral medication, can help decrease inflammation and pain, but simply does not have any effect in diminishing or removing the abnormal stresses that exist in those joints.  Alternatively, research has shown that manipulative care, specific exercises, muscle work, and posture correction can reverse some of the effects of this degenerative process.

Along the same lines, it is common to see neck issues stemming from a muscle origin, like is seen with TRIGGER POINTS. Trigger points are small contractions within a muscle that tends to keep the muscle taut (tense).  This in turn restricts circulation to the area, results in accumulation of tissue by-products locally, and deprives the area of oxygen. Even worse, these points then to refer pain to other parts of the body.  With neck-based trigger points, most referral patterns are seen into the head, upper extremities, and upper back. Bottom line……ongoing pain and discomfort.

Although trigger point injections to these knots can be given, often trigger points are well managed with a more practical and cost-effective approach using specific soft-tissue massage techniques, performed in our office. Plus you avoid needles.

Needless to say further, if your neck pain is not improving after a brief period of time, an evaluation is in order to better identify the cause and so that appropriate treatment can be commenced promptly.

If this describes you and you’d like us to evaluate your condition, give us a call today at (661) 942-5000.