Have you been feeling neck pain that is distracting you from your normal activities? If so, you aren’t alone.
Neck pain often accompanies headaches, shoulder pain, and upper back pain. It is a common reason for people to seek a doctor’s care.
Tension can be only a symptom
People assume neck pain is caused by straining or simply overexerting muscles, but there can be numerous causes that are often overlooked. Many of these additional cause can be symptoms of an even greater health issue.
It is true that the pain most people feel originates in the muscles of the neck. Once a chiropractor determines that this is the case, it will be important to ask more questions, such as “why the muscles are in pain”.
The Chiropractor may ask himself, “has the patient been doing extraordinary work such as cleaning a garage, painting or planting a new garden”?
If there is a simple explanation for the neck pain related to a single incidence of muscular overuse and it has only been present for a few days, then resting and using a cold pack will likely resolve the problem. The Chiropractor may suggest relaxation and stretching techniques and exercises that will strengthen the damaged tissue.
In the event that the pain has been present for more than a couple of days, involves more areas such as the upper back or shoulders, is accompanied by any additional signs such as tingling, weakness or numbness of the arms, then it needs to be further evaluated by a spinal specialist such as a chiropractic doctor.
Prolonged muscular tightness resulting in pain can be an indication of functional issues affecting the spine, such as joint restriction, misalignment, disc degeneration or injury.
Spinal joint issues can develop slowly over time or can be a result of an injury or a postural problem, such as sleeping in an awkward position. Even driving or sitting in an unnatural position can result in a spinal distortion. Some patients even develop pains and physical damages because of the way they place their wallets. Years of sitting crooked because of a large wallet can cause low back pain, for instance. The Chiropractor will be able to determine the likely causes and the best ways to address the issue.
Subtle dysfunctions of spinal joints are often overlooked during medical evaluations. Although major abnormalities of spinal movement may be observed, the subtle distinct patterns of movement of the individual joints are not evaluated.
Neck pain may also originate from a problem with a single spinal segment or from multiple locations.
To accurately diagnose the origin of neck pain, each individual spinal segment must be evaluated. Overlooking the subtle joint problems that are the root cause of pain will lead to completely missing the correct diagnosis.
To properly assess neck pain, spinal X-rays may be required. Underlying joint pathology or dysfunction may be the root cause of a new symptom that presents as simple muscle spasm.
An example of unseen joint pathology is damage sustained to joints from previous injuries.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, rear-end collisions often cause damage to the joints in the neck. These types of injury can result in neck pain that may come on immediately or may take some time to develop.
Unfortunately, many of the neck problems that are caused by rear-end and other types of vehicle accidents are not detected until years later. Often in my office, we find objective signs of injuries that occurred years earlier and have been slowly deteriorating over time.
Once an an X-ray is taken the damage can be seen.
To be more specific, in many cases the Chiropractor will find that there has been injury to the spinal discs occurring years earlier and evidenced by thinning discs or bulging or herniated discs.
After a spinal disc is injured initially, the patients will often feel pain accompanied by stiffness and reduced range of motion. This pain may subside after a few weeks, and the patient erroneously believes because the pain is gone that the injury has resolved.
The spine, spinal discs, and joints that have been injured will continue to silently deteriorate over time. Years later, the damage is found during an examination and confirmed with imaging tests like an MRI. Addressing the damage early is a means of mitigating what could be devastating effects.
Although it is often assumed that neck pain is simply a muscle, in a majority of cases this assumption is incorrect and prevents an accurate diagnosis. We encourage you to visit our Columbus, Georgia Chiropractor‘s office to address your pain professionally.
Although this article is just a brief summation of some of the causes of neck pain and is not intended to offer diagnosis or treatment for any condition, it is important to know what could be contributing the problem.