66% – Percentage of the population who will suffer from neck pain in their life
Females > Males – Neck Pain is more common among Females
The 2nd most common condition treated by Chiropractors
What is Neck Pain
Neck pain is a very common condition in which patients present with pain in the region from the base of the skull to the thoracic rib cage. Neck pain can come from a number of disorders and diseases and can involve any of the tissues in the neck.
Common Neck Pain Symptoms
Common symptoms associated with neck pain usually involves one or more of the following:
- Stiff neck. Soreness and difficulty moving the neck, especially when trying to turn the head from side to side.
- Sharp pain. This symptom can be pain localized to one spot and might feel like it’s stabbing or stinging.
- General soreness. The pain is mostly in one spot or area on the neck, and it’s described as tender or achy, not sharp.
- Radiating pain. The pain can radiate along a nerve from the neck into the shoulders and arms. The intensity can vary and this nerve pain might feel like it’s burning or searing.
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness. These sensations can go beyond the neck and radiate into the shoulder, arm or finger. There could be a “pins-and-needles” sensation. Typically, pain that radiates down the arm is felt in only one arm, not both.
- Trouble with gripping or lifting objects. This can happen if tingling, numbness, or weakness in the fingers is present.
- Headaches. Sometimes an irritation in the neck can also affect muscles and nerves connected to the head. This could be a tension headache, such as from neck muscles tightening and where a pinched occipital nerve in the neck causes pain to radiate up into the head’s sides and scalp.
Causes of Neck Pain
Mechanical (common causes) :
- Sprains and Strains of the muscles or ligaments of the neck
A neck sprain is a stretched ligament or muscle in the neck. A neck sprain may occur without any obvious injury but sometimes it may be caused by a sudden impact with an object. An impact may force the neck to quickly extend beyond its normal range, and then snap back forcefully. This is commonly called a whiplash injury. Rear-end car accidents, head jerking during amusement park rides, or being kicked are the most common forms of impact that may cause a neck sprain.
What symptoms will I have with a neck sprain?
You will have neck pain that worsens with movement. Sometimes this pain will not appear until a full day or two after the event that caused it. You will most likely have neck stiffness that hinders your ability to move your neck. The back of your head might hurt.
- Neck Injury or Trauma
Minor neck injuries may result from tripping, falling a short distance, or excessive twisting of the spine. Severe neck injuries may result from whiplash in a car accident, falls from significant heights, direct blows to the back or the top of the head, sports-related injuries, a penetrating injury such as a stab wound, or external pressure applied to the neck, such as strangulation.Pain from an injury may be sudden and severe. Bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury.
- Degeneration of the Disc (Neck)
Cervical disc disease goes beyond just a pain in the neck. Its is a degenerative process which can cause radiating pain, as well as numbness and weakness in your shoulders, arm, and hand. That discomfort and loss of mobility can have a major impact on your career, family, and quality of life
The Intervertbral discs which are located between each vertebrae are a the shock absorbers of the spine. Over time, these natural shock absorbers become worn and can start to degenerate. The space between the vertebrae narrows and nerve roots become pinched. This process is known as cervical degenerative disc disease. Research finds that about 25% of people without symptoms under age 40, and 60% over age 40 have some degree of degenerative disc disease. As degenerative disc disease progresses, the neck becomes less flexible, and you may feel neck pain and stiffness, especially towards the end of the day.
When the disc breaks open or bulges out, putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots, it is known as a herniated disc or “slipped disc.” Although cervical disc disease is generally a slow process, a herniated disc sometimes can occur quickly after an injury or trauma to the neck
The most common and obvious symptoms of cervical degenerative disc disease are neck pain and a stiff neck. When one of these conditions presses on one or more of the many nerves running through the spinal cord, you also can develop pain, numbness, or weakness radiating down your shoulder, arm, and hand
Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. Whiplash most often occurs during a rear-end auto accident, but the injury can also result from a sports accident, physical abuse or other trauma.
Common signs and symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, stiffness and headaches. Most people with whiplash get better within a few weeks by following a treatment plan that includes pain medication and exercise. However, some people have chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complications.
- Pinched Nerve (Cervical Radiculopathy)
Cervical radiculopathy, commonly called a “pinched nerve” occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated where it branches away from the spinal cord. This may cause pain that radiates into the shoulder, as well as muscle weakness and numbness that travels down the arm and into the hand.
Cervical radiculopathy is often caused by “wear and tear” changes that occur in the spine as we age, such as arthritis. In younger people, it is most often caused by a sudden injury that results in a herniated disk.
In most cases, cervical radiculopathy responds well to conservative treatment, Chiropractic and Manual therapy.
- Arthritis (Cervical Spondylosis)
Cervical spondylosis is also called cervical osteoarthritis. It is a condition involving changes to the bones, discs, and joints of the neck. These changes are caused by the normal wear-and-tear of aging. With age, the discs of the cervical spine gradually break down, lose fluid, and become stiffer. Cervical spondylosis usually occurs in middle-aged and elderly people.
As a result of the degeneration of discs and other cartilage, spurs or abnormal growths called osteophytes may form on the bones in the neck. These abnormal growths can cause narrowing of the interior of the spinal column or in the openings where spinal nerves exit, a related condition called cervical spinal stenosis.
Cervical spondylosis most often causes neckpain and stiffness. Although cervical spondylosis is rarely progressive, corrective surgery can be helpful in severe cases.
Neck Pain Red Flags
(Rare causes of Neck pain)
When a patient presents with Neck pain there are certain RED FLAG conditions which need to be ruled out. Many of the red flag conditions represent more sinister conditions which will require emergency care. Some of the Neck Pain red flags are listed below:
- Tuberculosis (TB)
Tuberculosis (TB), is a contagious infection that usually attacks the lungs. It can also spread to other parts of the body, like the brain and spine. It is causes by a certain type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB is common in patients with weak immune systems eg: Patients with HIV or Autoimmune Diseases.
Symptoms of TB include
- A cough that lasts more than 3 weeks
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Feeling tired all the time
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If TB spreads to the cervical spine the symptoms may mimic the symptoms associated with Arthritis or Disc Degeneration Disease. It is therefore extremely important that TB is ruled out as a possible cause of neck pain.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord. The swelling from meningitis typically triggers symptoms such as headache, fever and a stiff neck
Most cases of meningitis are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections are other causes. Some cases of meningitis improve without treatment in a few weeks. Others can be life-threatening and require emergency antibiotic treatment.
Symptoms of Meningitis
Early meningitis symptoms may mimic the flu (influenza). Symptoms may develop over several hours or over a few days.
- Sudden high fever
- Stiff neck
- Severe headache that seems different than normal
- Headache with nausea or vomiting
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Sleepiness or difficulty waking
- Sensitivity to light
- No appetite or thirst
People with meningitis may complain of a stiff neck and headache to a medical practitioner so it is vitally important that meningitis is ruled out in patients who have neck pain before looking for one of the more common causes.
- Cancer (Spine)
Tumors in the spine may cause back pain from expansion of the bone or from weakening the bone, which in turn can result in spinal fractures, compression (pinching) of the nerves, or spinal instability.
Symptoms of Spinal Cancer
- Pain in the neck or back, followed by neurological problems (such as weakness or numbness of the arms or legs or a change in normal bowel or bladder habits)
- Spine pain that is worse in the morning
- Pain that does not decrease with rest, and pain that may be worse at night than during the day
- Back pain along with symptoms, such as loss of appetite, unplanned weight loss, nausea, vomiting, or fever, chills or shakes.
Common Activities which cause Neck Pain:
Sleeping in wrong position. Often referred to as a “crick” in the neck, a person might wake up in the morning with neck pain due to sleeping in an awkward or atypical position that overextended the neck. Pain may also be as a result of using an incorrect pillow when sleeping.
Sports injury. A person could move the neck suddenly and/or in an unusual way in a new sport, or a player could have a collision or fall.
Poor posture. Whether it’s at work, home, and/or commuting, poor posture can lead to neck problems. If a person’s head is often tilted forward for long periods of time, then the neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments need to work harder. Poor posture can be problematic during any number of activities, including working at a computer, watching TV, riding the train, reading a book, gardening, and more. Text neck is an increasingly common problem that develops in anyone who spends hours looking down at the phone while texting.
Repetitive motions. Turning the head in a repetitive manner, such as side to side while dancing or swimming, may lead to overuse of the neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Holding the head in unusual position. Anything that requires holding the head in an unusual way for long periods of time could cause neck strains and sprains. Some examples include having a long conversation while cradling a phone between the head and shoulder, or spending an afternoon looking up at an air show.
Whiplash. In a whiplash injury, the head and neck are forced suddenly backward and immediately forward with a great deal of force. The soft tissues along and near the neck can be torn or ruptured as a result. This type of injury commonly occurs in an auto accident that involves a rear-end collision.
For further information on Neck pain please click the links below:
Latest Research on Neck Pain
Glucose Metabolic Changes in the Brain and Muscles of Patients with Nonspecific Neck Pain Treated by Spinal Manipulation Therapy (2017)
This study investigated if spinal manipulations of the neck have an effect on the brain and muscles as well as measuring any changes in the amount of salivary amylase (saliva) before and after the manipulations.
- Changes in the Brain and Skeletal muscles noted after the manipulation included: activation of numerous regions of the brain as well as decreased muscle metabolism.
- Decreased release of Salivary analyse in the mouth
These findings indicate that spinal manipulation have an effect on the Brain and appear to decrease sympathetic nervous system (stress response).
To view the full study please click the link:
Association between Objectively Measured Sitting Time and Neck-Shoulder Pain among Blue-Collar Workers (2015).
The study investigated if sitting for long periods lead to an increase in the intensity of Neck pain reported by patients.
- Patients who sat for long periods (approx 9 hrs per day) reported more severe neck pain than those who sat for less periods of time.
- No link was found between leisure (non work related) sitting time and neck pain.
This study suggests that the more time spent sitting a work the higher your chance of having more severe neck pain.
To view the full study please click the link:
Dainfern Chiro approach to Neck Pain Treatment
The Dainfern Chiro approach to Neck pain is a non drug, conservative and safe approach to the treatment of neck pain.
Our approach to the treatment of neck pain will be to firstly identify the cause of the neck pain, to do so we will take a full history, conduct a full physical examination of the neck and shoulder region which includes orthopaedic, neurological and muscle testing. If required the patient may be sent through for further investigations like X-rays, Ultrasound.
Common Neck Pain Causes:
- Poor sitting posture (Office workers)
- Looking down while using a cell phone / Tablet
- Sleeping on an incorrect pillow
- Whiplash injuries from motor vehicle accidents
- Sports Injuries
Treatment for Neck pain is focused firstly on education the patient with regards to cause of the pain as well as what changes will need to be made by the patient to prevent the pain occurring again.
In terms of chiropractic treatment, the primary goal will be to increase the range of motion of the particular area of the neck which is not moving correctly. This is done by the use of a Chiropractic adjustment (spinal manipulation) which results in both an increase in the motion of the spine as well as a decrease in pain and muscle spasm.
The number of treatment sessions will depend upon the severity of the neck pain however in general most patients see significant improvement within 3-5 sessions.