If you or someone you know has neck pain then this article is for you.
Not all neck pain is created equally. At different times of your life you may experience pain but it is likely caused by different conditions…and your spouse is not one of them!
As we age our bodies change and so does the resiliency of our tissues. The muscles lose strength and flexibility, the disc, ligaments and tendons become more brittle and susceptible to injury.
Since most of us are not as active compared to our younger years the body does what it does best . . . adapt. The body will adapt one way or another, either to get stronger and more mobile or get weak and tight based on the stress we put on it.
The problem is most of us don’t think about this and are shocked and surprised when we have an injury that doesn’t just go away on its own like it did in our early teens and twenties.
Having difficulty turning our heads after “sleeping funny” or getting zinging pain down the arm after a Saturday of yard work just seems ridiculous, however I hear it on a daily basis.
These events, while mild, were just enough stress to irritate the local tissues. This can lead to lost time at work, lack of enjoyment with your hobbies, additionally, this makes you grouchy and starts to erode your relationships and happiness.
We can’t turn back the clock but we can at least be aware of the potential issues as well as address our problems quickly so they don’t become a major pain in the neck.
The biggest mistake most people with neck pain make is ignoring their pain. When you ignore those little aches and pains you are potentially setting yourself up for larger and more costly problems in the long run. Costly is not only the financial burden of taking care of your problem but also the mental and physical toll it takes on you and your loved ones.
The faster you address the problem the greater chance of success which leads to your ability to get your life back and experience true happiness.
So what are the Top 3 Causes of Neck Pain?
The first type of neck pain typically involves the disc. Yes I know most people immediately think of surgery when they hear of a disc problem but that is rarely the case.
The disc is a type of tissue in the body that DOES have the ability to heal. When we are young, say under 35 the disc is full of fluid. Think of the disc like a grape. Nice, plump and juicy. When you stress the neck it is possible that the disc (grape) can develop a little bulge or tear. This causes pain but the body can heal it.
Often the disc and surrounding nerves get irritated and inflamed. This causes an increase in local pain and possibly pain down the arm which if not addressed can lead to weakness and limitations in your daily activities.
What to do? As I have discussed in previous blogs the first step is to assess what phase of healing you are in. Most likely at this stage you are in Phase I or II. At this point we need to address the local pain and inflammation, get it under control and then start to prescribe a gentle movement program to restore any lost motion and build up the strength.
Manual hands on treatment works great to treat the disc and reduce the bulge. Options like spinal decompression and soft tissue massage are a great place to start.
The problem is most people who start to feel better don’t continue with their treatment program which should restore their motion, strength as well as have a home program focused on prevention so the problem doesn’t come back.
Think about a time when you just put a “bandaid” on some problem and didn’t really address the true issue. This could be something at the house, an issue with a co-worker or that car that keeps getting a flat tire.
Failing to address the true cause of the problem just leads to prolonged frustration and irritation.
The second type of pain is arthritis or stenosis. As we get older 50+ the disc (grape) begins to look more like a raisin. Like the other tissues in our body it begins to dry out. (don’t worry, it happens to all of us).
This starts to cause more wear and tear on the local joints in the neck frequently leading to degenerative disc disease and possibly stenosis. Stenosis is just a fancy word that means “closing”.
The area around the spine starts to close in and create pressure on the surrounding tissues, including the nerves. Again people can recover from this condition (without surgery) depending on the severity.
Often stenosis is aggravated by years of poor posture (prolonged sitting at a computer, poor ergonomic work set up or people who spend most of their days in extreme positions.
What to do?
Again we go back to The MAGICAL 5 Phases of Healing. Most patients are in Phase I-II when they come into the office.
With arthritis and stenosis we find that specific joints in the neck have become very stiff while others seem to move pretty good.
To properly address this we perform specific stretching to the little joints in the neck that are tight. We follow that up with “eye exercises” that help to work the smaller muscles in the neck.
Occasionally we will use spinal decompression as well to open up the segments. In addition to the hands on care we also prescribe specific postural exercises to get to the root of the problem.
The third type of neck pain we frequently see is related to nerve pain. This is usually characterized by sharp shooting pain into the shoulder or arm (hand) as well as dull achy pain into the shoulder blade
Occasionally patients won’t have neck pain (see Don’t Be A Pain In The Neck) with this condition and the doctors often mis-diagnose this as a “muscle strain” or “shoulder strain”. The true diagnosis is discovered after a thorough examination of the neck and shoulder region.
Often the nerve pain is combined with condition 1 (disc) or 2 (arthritis/stenosis) mentioned above.
The nerve pain however feels different and is often accompanied by burning sensations along with numbness and tingling down the arm and into the hand.
What to do? After we determine the exact cause of your nerve pain we can begin treatment. This often includes some type of manual hands on therapy along with spinal decompression to help reduce the pain and inflammation. This helps you start to feel better and get a sense of hope.
In addition to hands-on care we utilize specific exercises to help the nerves heal and move properly so they are not getting kinked and irritated with daily tasks.
For all 3 conditions we also use a combination of Trigger Point Dry Needling (similar to acupuncture) and Deep Tissue Laser treatments to relax the muscles, reduce pain and inflammation as well as speed the healing process.
Regardless of the condition, progressing through The Magical 5 Phases of Healing is the ultimate way to recover and prevent future problems. By the time you reach Phase 5 you are feeling great and focused on thriving and not just surviving.
Once we know what is causing your neck pain then prescribing treatment becomes easy. Where I see people get into trouble is that they don’t have an accurate diagnosis of what is causing their problem and then they start trying all sorts of treatments.
When the treatment doesn’t work they often say…physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, exercise, you fill in the blank doesn’t work. When in fact they could have applied the right treatment to the wrong condition.
This is why getting a consultation with an expert is so important vs looking at youtube videos about neck pain.
If you are looking for guidance on your next step to finding relief from your neck pain then call our office to request my 100% FREE Report Top 10 Burning Questions for Neck Pain. Or if you want the report right now, please visit www.springtownphysicaltherapy.com/neckpain and you can download it instantly.
PS. No one will ask for any money for anything when you call 817-220-6677 to request your free report which is perfect for those who are suffering with neck pain.
So hopefully this was helpful. And trying to identify what is causing your neck pain can make all the difference in success and failure which could land you on the operating table unnecessarily.
So, If You Or Someone You Love Is Currently Living With Neck Pain, Here’s Something Just For YOU
Declare Your Own Personal Victory Over Headaches and Neck Pain!
How To Resolve Your Neck Pain Before It ruins your life
This a FREE Informational workshop, seating is limited so you must Register
Call Our Office NOW 817-220-6677
Seating is limited due to social distancing, only (10) seats are available… so please don’t delay your registration.
ALL 10 attendees for the Neck Pain and Headache Workshop will receive a Special Report: “The Top 10 Burning Questions for Neck Pain”.
Saturday, October 9th, 10 AM
MOSS Rehabilitation Center
407 Old Springtown Rd Ste 114, Springtown, TX 76082
Call this special number 817-220-MOSS (6677) or go online to register
The author, Dr. Robert Moss PT, ScD is the owner of MOSS Rehabilitation Center in Springtown, TX. He is happy to help you with your neck pain either by phone 817-220-MOSS (6677) or email email@example.com.