Neck pain overview
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. The good news is, for most of us, if we do get neck pain it is usually acute, short-lived and relatively simple to treat with chiropractic and physiotherapy. Neck pain is not as common as low back pain. However, just like low back pain, neck pain can be acute or chronic and is often associated with headache, shoulder pain and muscle tension. We are most likely to get neck pain through our middle years of life during our 40s, 50s and 60s.
Acute neck pain is neck pain that lasts for less than three months whereas chronic neck pain persists for more than three months. Generally speaking, when a physiotherapist or chiropractor first looks at your neck they will attempt to diagnosis which anatomical structure or tissues are causing the neck pain. This can be a soft tissue component such as ligaments, tendons, muscles, a bone structure such the vertebrae or intervertebral joints. The disc tissue between in vertebrae is called an intervertebral disc. Neural elements of the spine may also cause pain and these include spinal nerve roots and the spinal cord. Most of the time your chiropractor or physiotherapist will be able to identify the exact structure in the neck causing the pain. A diagnosis or classification should also be given, as this will allow for a more specific treatment to be delivered by the chiropractor or physiotherapist.
To identify the cause of neck pain we typically will go through the following questions on the initial consultation to successfully identify the cause of the neck pain
- Medical profile. Here we look at your medical history for conditions or factors that may have contributed to your neck pain
- Pain profile. We will ask you about the location of your pain, radiation of pain, and factors or activities that increase or reduce your pain
- Joint profile – We will ask questions regarding how your neck moves into different directions such as looking over your shoulder, does your neck lock or catch or feel unstable.
- Activity profile – We will ask you questions about what activities make the condition worse such as walking, going to the toilet or overhead shoulder movements.
Neck pain symptoms
Neck pain is variable. A 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. Other neck pain symptoms may include pain that radiates down into the shoulders, arms or hands, weakness of the muscles in the arm or hand, numbness, and tingling.
Neck pain Causes
There are many causes of neck pain. Read some of the causes here.