Your neck — cervical spine — is an incredible structure that holds your head up and allows you to turn your head in multiple directions. There is no other part of your body that has comparable freedom of movement like your neck. Your neck is made up of seven vertebrae that house part of your spinal cord and eight nerve roots. Your neck protects large vascular elements that transports oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your brain and back again. Your neck is held up and able to move because of its ligaments and 32 muscles!
Neck pain is one of the most common health complaints. Because your neck is constantly supporting and balancing 10-13 pounds — the equivalent of an average bowling ball — it should come as no surprise that it is likely that you will suffer from neck pain at some point in your life. While most neck pain is the result of holding or resting your head in an odd position or turning too quickly, and will resolve itself, some neck pain can be a cause of concern that requires medical intervention. Neck pain can manifest in many different ways, including a stiff feeling that makes it difficult to turn the head, localized sharp or stabbing pain, soreness or tenderness, or pain that radiates up the head or down the back or shoulder, arm, and hand.
If you can relate your neck pain to a specific incident, or you wake up with a stiff neck, popular responses are to take medication for the pain — analgesics — or just treating its symptoms — muscle relaxers, massage, hot packs. If these home interventions work within a day or two without symptoms getting worse, you may not need further assessment. However, if you experience tingling, numbness, or weakness that radiates into your shoulder, arm, or fingers, problems gripping or lifting, problems with balance and coordination, or loss of bowel or bladder control, it is time to see a medical provider.
Neck Pain Diagnosis
At the Injury Center of the Glades, our approach to treating neck pain is to locate its underlying cause. This begins with a complete case history and thorough examination. Special attention is given to the structure and function of the spine, and its effect on the nervous system. While a massage feels good, most causes of neck pain involve more than just muscles. Is the proper spinal curve present? Is the nerve opening between each pair of spinal bones free and clear? Is the head balanced? Are the shoulders level? Imaging, such as x-ray or MRI may be used to make a definitive diagnosis of the cause of your neck pain.
Neck Pain Treatment
Dr. Cohen, at Glades Injury Center, may use a combination of spinal manipulation, manual therapy, and other chiropractic techniques to optimize the structure of the spine. With improved structure and function, neck pain often diminishes or totally disappears, without addictive drugs or harmful side effects. Dr. Cohen may recommend some therapeutic exercises to do outside of the office to further increase movement and ease pain.