Neck Pain

Neck pain can be caused by irritation, inflammation, injury, or infection.  Pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, hand, or head most frequently results from irritation of cervical nerve roots in the region of the intervertebral foramen.  This is where the nerve exits between two spinal bones.   Encroachment of the vascular supply ensues as it courses through the vertebral canal, or invasion of the cord in the spinal canal contributes heavily to the pain.

If unhealthy, your neck’s normal forward curve may reduce, become straight or military, or even reverse its curve.  Over time, arthritic changes in the vertebrae such as lipping or spurring (bony growths), disc-thinning or degeneration, or deterioration of muscles, ligaments and other structures may occur.  However, in spite of all these changes, there may or may not be pain. In fact, studies show little or no correlation between the degree of pain felt in the neck and arthritis changes found on X-rays and MRIs.

Lipping, spurring, and other irregularities (osteoarthritis) do not in themselves constitute a disease but are instead defense mechanisms that arise to stabilize an off-balance spine.  Recent research has shown that manipulative care can reverse some of the effects of osteoarthritis – something that had previously been considered impossible.

Upon initial evaluation, a thorough overview of the patients history is critical.  Certain symptoms will indicate different areas of the neck that may be contributing to the pain.  Previous trauma, even years prior, is key to understanding neck and back pain. In fact, a trauma 20 years ago is usually a big factor in the pain a patient is experiencing today.  Misalignments that are left untreated, cause years of abnormal stress on bones, discs, muscles, nerves, etc. and will prematurely wear out these structures.

A proper evaluation should include posture analysis, palpation of the spine and muscles, range of motion evaluation, orthopedic and neurologic testing, x-rays, and possibly MRI’s of the involved area.

Once we determine exactly what is going on, we can put together a very structured and individualized care plan.  Initially, our goal and your goal is exactly the same, which is pain relief.  In order to achieve initial pain relief, we have many proven modalities that may be applied.  These include myofascial release, trigger point therapy, PNF stretching, Decompression Therapy (See Link), and low force manipulation/adjustments to name a few.  This process can take days, weeks, or months depending on the length of time you have had the problem, your health history, age, severity of problem, etc.  Once we achieve pain relief, the real work begins.

With a typical patient, the neck or back has become painful due to several factors and well-researched causes.  Previous trauma, poor bio-mechanics/alignment, and weak core/supporting musculature.  Once pain relief is achieved,  it is then critical to correct these causes of the pain.  Perhaps the best analogy to use is the car out of alignment analogy.  If your car is out of alignment, abnormal stress will be placed on certain areas of the tires.  This stress will, over time, cause the tires to prematurely wear.  We can constantly replace the tires, OR we can correct the alignment!  In our office, and this is very important to know, we are one of only about 3% of health care providers trained in structural correction of the spine.  We use an advanced technique called Chiropractic Biophysics to help correct the alignment and restore proper bio-mechanics.  We are able to take pre and post x-rays to show these changes.  When inquiring about Chiropractic care at any facility, I would ask if they are able to take pre and post x-rays.  If not, they may be able to help as manipulation of the joints is critical for healing.  However, without restoring proper bio-mechanics and showing the changes on x-ray, the pain relief may be temporary at best.

After pain relief has been achieved and proper bio-mechanics is addressed, it becomes necessary to strengthen weak muscles that help support the spine.  Perhaps the biggest mistake I see in caring for neck or back pain is trying to exercise and strengthen too early.  Physical therapy is 100% necessary for long-term stability, but it cannot begin too soon or it will cause more pain and discomfort.  The order in which we apply these concepts is critical to results achieved.  First pain relief, second restore alignment, third strengthen.  If things are done in this order, the results are phenomenal.  Remember this saying, THE RIGHT THING DONE AT THE WRONG TIME, IS STILL THE WRONG THING!  The order is critical!

As a result of my overwhelming research of pain patients, I have found that a thorough neurological examination is necessary to determine which part of the nervous system is not functioning properly.  In many neck pain patients, I have found a high mesencephalic output.

There are three parts to the brain stem: top, middle, and lower.  The mesencephalon is the top part of the brain stem.  A high output of the mesencephalon will cause an increased pulse and heart rate, inability to sleep or waking up from fitful sleep, urinary tract infection, increase warmth or sweating, and sensitivity to light.
Neck Pain

Along with a high mesenphalic output, the neck pain patient may have a decreased output of the cerebellum.  The cerebellum is in the back part of the brain, and it controls all of the involuntary spinal musculature.

No matter what the condition, it is imperative that the doctor performs a thorough and comprehensive exam to determine the exact nature of the patient’s condition.

For more information including a reduced cost ($275 cost for $77) neck and back pain evaluation program, call Janelle @ 714 241-9355.