Cervical Spine Pain (Neck Pain)

According to the research, at one point or another we are all likely to experience neck pain. We may experience neck pain in varying degrees, intensities and for a variety of different reasons.

Most neck pain it is usually acute, short lived and relatively simple to treat with. In saying this neck pain can be acute or chronic and is often associated with headache, shoulder pain and muscle tension.

Neck pain symptoms

The most common way neck pain is described, is a dull pain that persists in the back of the neck and then may become a sharper pain on movement, especially looking side to side. From here, the symptoms of neck pain can be variable and include pain that radiates down into the shoulders, arms or hands, weakness of the muscles in the arm or hand, numbness, tingling and in rare persistent cases, loss of arm function.

Neck pain Causes

The following conditions are the most common causes of neck pain.

  • Acute neck pain
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Cervical facet syndrome
  • Cervical bulging disc or protrusion
  • Cervical radiculopathy
  • Neck Whiplash
  • Cervical arthritis
  • Headaches

Acute neck pain

Acute neck pain is extremely common. In fact, 2/3 people will experience neck pain at some point in our lives. Our chiropractor will diagnose or classify your acute neck pain. Acute neck pain can be causes by sprains and strains, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, muscles, nerves or joint structures such as intervertebral discs. Most acute neck pain is due to minor sprains or sustained poor postures irritating neck structures. Most people will make a full recovery from minor neck pain even if they do nothing at all. Medication may help acute pain but is not typically effective for chronic pain.

Symptoms of acute neck pain

In acute neck pain the symptoms can be quite variable. Generally speaking pain usually develops in the back of the neck and may spread down to the shoulders or up to the skull. Movement of the neck may become limited and when nerves become affected there may be pain that extends down the arm and into the hands and fingers. Acute neck pain severity depends on the source of the pain, when muscles are affected the pain is usually not as intense as when a neck intervertebral disc or nerve is involved

Treatments of acute neck pain

The treatment of acute neck pain depends on what is causing the pain and how the pain is categorised. For example, if the pain is neuropathic, meaning it comes from a nerve the treatment is different then if the neck pain comes from a muscle (somatic pain). The mechanism of the neck pain will also determine the treatments that your chiropractor or physiotherapist gives you, for example in whiplash (WAD – whiplash associated disorders) treatments are much lighter and limited (no) manipulation given, however with discogenic pain more active overpressure treatments may be used such as McKenzie Method techniques. In all cases one thing that is consistent at Incline Health, all the treatments delivered by our chiropractors are based on the very latest research and what is known as evidence based medicine – the gold standard on chiropractic treatments for acute neck pain. 

Chronic neck pain

Chronic neck pain implies that you have had your neck pain for longer than 3 months. Chronic neck pain may be caused by a variety of different injuries, diseases and processes. Chronic neck pain is very common and is a significant burden to the individual, community and workplace. Just like acute neck pain, muscles, joints, tendons, intervertebral discs and nerves can cause chronic neck pain. Long-standing arthritic conditions are a likely cause of chronic neck pain.

Symptoms of chronic neck pain

The symptoms of chronic neck pain really depend on the cause of the chronic neck pain. For example, discogenic pain coming from the intervertebral disc may present with pain worse with some movements such as flexion or looking down and activities such as above head activities or coughing. Chronic myofascial (muscle) pain will present in a variable pattern with sometimes vague and mixed symptoms and sensitivities in the neck muscles that may occur after repeated contractions of the neck. When the pain is radicular (nerve) or neurogenic it may travel down the arm into the fingers and cause changes in pain, sensation or muscle contractibility all the way down the arm.

Treatments of chronic neck pain

The treatments for chronic neck pain are determined by its cause. The chiropractors at Incline Health have a particular clinical interest in treating chronic and persistent mechanical neck pain. Depending on the diagnosis or classification of chronic neck pain chiropractic treatments for chronic neck pain may include treatments targeted at painful muscles, painful intervertebral or facet joints, irritated or inflamed intervertebral discs, nerve pain or mechanical sensitivities in spinal joints structures. Regardless of the cause of chronic neck pain our chiropractors use evidence based treatments in a team approach to ensure you get the very best in chronic neck pain treatment.

Cervical facet syndrome

Neck pain is a huge problem with an estimated 34% of the population experiencing neck pain at some point in their lives and 14% having ongoing chronic neck pain. Cervical facet syndrome is a fancy way to say that someone is experiencing neck pain and this comes from the back (posterior elements) of the neck. For someone to be diagnosed with cervical facet syndrome it is usually a process of elimination when the neck intervertebral disc, ligaments, muscles and nerves have been ruled out as a source of pain.

Symptoms of cervical facet syndrome

The symptoms of cervical facet syndrome typically involves tenderness at the back of the neck over the joints, pain over the muscles at the back of the neck and pain with movements that involve compressing the joints such as extension and rotation (reversing car). There is not neurological involvement with facet syndrome in the neck. Imaging studies such as MRI or CT scan don’t really help too much unless there is a suspicion of fracture or tumour.

Treatment of cervical facet syndrome

At Incline Health our chiropractors specialise in the non-surgical treatment of neck pain and this includes cervical facet syndrome. When we treat any cause of neck pain, our chiropractors use the latest evidence based treatments that have been shown to work. The stages of treatment for cervical facet syndrome involve reducing pain and inflammation, improving range of motion and function and strengthening the neck. In most cases chiropractic treatments will be enough however is some persistent cases of neck facet syndrome we may need to send you off for an injection to help the recovery process.

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