Neck Pain Causes, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Neck pain is more common than you might think! Researchers believe that almost 80% of people will experience neck pain at some point in their lives. Neck pain can come in varying extremes. Some people with neck pain experience a dull and mildly irritating ache, while others report sharp nerve pain that radiates down their shoulder.

Chronic neck pain can be debilitating. Those who experience server pain may be forced to avoid their regular day-to-day tasks. Many people with neck pain are forced to change their daily routine to avoid pain triggers.

Depending on the intensity and duration, neck pain can be classified as acute, subacute, and chronic. Acute pain usually lasts less than four weeks. Subacute pain can last up to 3 months and chronic pain lasts three months or longer.

Read on to learn the different causes and symptoms of neck pain as well as why you should consider seeing a chiropractor for neck pain in Santa Rosa.

Causes

Muscle Tension and Strain

Muscle tension and strain are usually caused by poor posture. Some common causes of bad posture are bad habits such as slouching, inactivity, sitting behind a desk for too long in the same position, and hunching over your computer. Even everyday activities such as reading in bed or teeth clenching and grinding can strain neck muscles, causing neck pain.

Diseases 

Certain diseases including meningitis, certain types of cancers, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause debilitating neck pain. In people who have meningitis, neck pain is often accompanied by a fever and headache. Meningitis can be life-threatening and needs immediate medical attention.

Worn Joints 

As we age, the cervical discs degenerate. Commonly known as spondylosis or osteoarthritis of the neck, the condition can narrow the space between the vertebrae adding stress on your joints. This leads to the formation of spurs that can cause pain and affect joint motion.

Injuries 

A neck injury can occur when the ligaments in the neck are forced to move outside of their normal range. Some common causes of neck injuries include slip and fall accidents and car accidents. People who play contact sports are at risk for sports-related injuries that can impact the functioning of the neck.

A herniated disk or bone spur in the vertebrae of your neck can also cause chronic neck pain. In rare instances, neck pain is caused by tumors, abscesses, infections, and congenital abnormalities.

Symptoms

Some common symptoms of neck pain are:

➢   Radicular pain: Radicular pain is caused by an inflamed nerve root in the cervical spine. It typically affects one side of the body and intensifies with certain movements. The location of Radicular pain may or may not follow dermatomal patterns.

➢   Axial neck pain: Axial neck pain is one of the most common types of neck pain. It usually does not radiate. Though Axial neck pain typically feels dull, achy, or throbbing, it can also be sharp or stinging.

➢   Myelopathic pain: Myelopathic pain usually occurs when the spinal cord in the neck becomes compressed.

➢   Referred pain: Referred pain is often characterized by a throbbing, deep, achy, and cramping sensation.

➢ Headache: Neck pain and irritation can often impact the muscles and nerves in the head, which can lead to constant headaches.

Diagnosis 

Your doctor will ask you several questions about your health history and perform a physical examination to diagnose neck pain. They may order imaging studies and tests such as blood tests, MRI scans, CT scans, or other imaging to determine the cause of pain.

Treatment 

You cannot over-rely on prescription drugs to manage neck pain as many medications are addictive and can have side effects.

Many people with neck pain use chiropractic care to manage neck pain symptoms.

There are several benefits of chiropractic care. It is non-invasive and unlike many other treatment methods, it does not have any major side effects while being drug-free. Chiropractic care focuses on treating the root cause of neck pain, instead of just its symptoms.

A chiropractor for neck pain in Santa Rosa uses spinal manipulation techniques to loosen up stiff joints. Here are some spinal manipulation techniques chiropractors use for neck pain.

➢   Flexion-distraction technique: This technique involves using a pumping action to apply gentle pressure on the intervertebral disc

➢   Specific spinal manipulation: In specific spinal manipulation, a gentle thrusting pressure is applied to the affected area to restore joint movement

➢   Instrument assisted soft tissue therapy:  Specialized instruments are used to restore joint movement

➢   Therapeutic massage: Involves manipulating soft tissues to relax tense muscles

➢   Trigger point therapy: This technique is used to reduce pressure on tight points on stiff muscles

Your chiropractor for neck pain in Santa Rosa may also recommend therapeutic exercises. The main aim of these exercises is to gently stretch stiff muscles to improve their flexibility. Therapeutic exercises can help improve the range of motion and prevent pain from progressing.

Many chiropractors use ice and heat therapy to treat neck pain. There are several benefits of ice and heat therapy. It can help reduce inflammation and swelling, improve circulation and prevent lactic acid buildup. Your chiropractor will teach your exercises to strengthen the deep neck muscles.

What to Expect 

What should you expect during a chiropractic adjustment? Your chiropractor will place you in a specific position. They will ask you to lie face down on a specially designed padded chiropractic table. They will use their hands to apply gentle pressure on the affected joints. As the professional adjusts your spine, you may hear popping or cracking sounds.

How long does chiropractic care take to work? This is one of the most common questions people ask their chiropractors. Some people start seeing results after the first week, while others start experiencing benefits after four weeks.

Toth Chiropractic is committed to helping people break from the shackles of pain. Regardless of the type of pain you are struggling with, Dr. Douglass Toth can help. To make an appointment, call (707) 355-6535.