Neck Pain

There are a number of structures in the neck including various muscles, nerves, vertebrae, and disks between bones. Any pain, discomfort, abnormalities, inflammation, or injury in these neck structures is given the generic term of neck pain. Neck pain is a commonly experienced ailment that is in most cases a non-serious condition that can be resolved in a relatively short period of time with proper care and treatment. There can be many different causes for neck pain including injury, overuse, poor posture, and normal wear and tear. It should be noted that neck pain can be more serious and if pain is severe, lasts for more than a few days, or is joined with other symptoms you should seek professional chiropractic care right away. These additional symptoms may include numbness, loss of strength in the arms or hands, or shooting pain in the arm or shoulder.

What Commonly Causes Neck 

Muscle tension or tightness and muscle strain is the most common cause of neck pain. Normal everyday living is typically the number one reason people will experience it. Holding the head in a fixed unnatural position for long periods of time can strain the muscles leading to pain and stiffness. Having poor posture when sitting and standing, sleeping in an unnatural position, or twisting and turning the neck quickly can all lead to neck pain. Carrying heavy items on one side of the body, holding a phone in the crook of the neck, or hunching forward to look at a computer screen can also cause issues.

More Serious Causes of Neck Pain

The area of the neck is uniquely susceptible to injury. The soft tissues including muscles and ligaments are at risk for extension beyond their normal range of motion. This is especially true when the neck is quickly pushed or swung backward or forward. This movement can cause a neck issue commonly known as whiplash. Rear-end automobile collisions and sports injuries are the most common cause, however physical abuse and even amusement park rides can increase the risk as well. Whiplash is typically mild, but can develop into chronic pain. Arthritis, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia can also cause neck pain.
In some cases, neck pain will result not from one single event, but instead from years of repeated stress and injury. Neck injuries may be hardly noticeable at the time, however years of these minor injuries can cause the cervical spine can begin to degenerate. Without treatment, this degeneration will continue leading to chronic and persistent pain. Treatments will help to strengthen the soft tissues of the neck and slow the course of degeneration. There are a number of specific diagnoses for degenerative neck pain including degenerative disk disease, mechanical neck pain, pinched nerves, and spinal stenosis. Below is a quick overview of some of these degenerative issues.
  • Degenerative Disk Disease: As we age, the vertebral disks which are the cushions between the vertebrae in the spine begin to wear down. This causes them to stiffen and lose their ability to absorb shock. They also begin to thin as they dry out. Fluid movement is reduced and the disks become rigid. This rigidity restricts movement and causes pain.
  • Muscle Strain: Muscle strain is a term used to explain a stiff and sore neck. The diagnosis may be a true strain or pulled muscle, but it also includes muscle spasms that may be caused by an additional condition. Muscle strain can also be the result of any injury to the soft tissues of the neck.
  • Mechanical Neck Pain: This is descriptive of pain that remains in the neck area for long or regular periods of time. The pain will become worse as the neck is used. It can be the result of degenerative disk disease, but also may be a symptom of arthritis in the neck.
  • Pinched Nerve: A pinched nerve is caused when either a bone spur or degenerated disks apply pressure to a nerve. The pressure causes pain, and in some cases numbness in the neck, arm, or hand.
  • Spinal Stenosis: This is one of the more serious issues that cause neck pain. Typically, bone spurs that are present in later stages of degeneration narrow the spinal canal. The spurs push on the spinal cord or nerve roots causing numbness, tingling, and pain in the neck, arms, and hands. 

Neck Pain Treatment

There are many different treatment methods depending on the cause of your neck pain. For minor pain and stiffness, anti-inflammatory medications and rest with careful exercise can eliminate the symptoms in a day or two. If you continue to experience pain more than a few days, it is important to see a chiropractic professional to rule out any more serious issues and provide the best treatment for your particular condition. If you experience things such as a lump in your neck, fever with neck pain, trouble swallowing or breathing, weakness, numbness, tingling, bowel dysfunction, or any other more concerning symptoms you should seek care immediately.

Treatment may include physical therapy, ice and heat therapy, neck collars, traction, massage, electric nerve stimulation, and several others. For serious issues, you may require hospital treatment including surgery, however this is rare. Starting with a comprehensive physical examination and by reviewing your medical history and activities, a chiropractor can usually diagnose your condition without the need for x-rays, MRI’s and other such diagnostic testing. However in some cases these additional tests may be recommended.

Accelerate Chiropractic Can Relieve Your Neck Pain!

At Accelerate Chiropractic, we are able to educate you on the treatment of conditions causing neck pain, and we work closely with you to regain pain-free mobility.

Dr. Dave Yancey and Dr. Erika Yancey are passionate about providing treatment that gets you back on your feet comfortably. Learn about our experience and contact us today to schedule your personalized consultation. It’s time to reclaim the freedom that comes with mobility and comfort through Accelerate Chiropractic’s care.

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Dave Yancey
Accelerate Chiropractic & Rehab
304 4th Ave NE • Waite Park, MN 56367

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