Types & Causes of Neck Pain:
Mechanical Neck Pain
This is a generalised term for localised pain, aching, spasms, twinges, pinching, tightness and/or stiffness in the neck area (and often extending in the the top of the back and top of shoulders). This type of pain primarily originates from joints, muscles, tendons, fascia and/or ligaments.
It can be acute (present for less than 3 months) or chronic (present for more than 3 months). It can occur from a specific accident/injury/trauma/incident or it can build up gradually over time. It can range from a mild ache to an acute pain where you are unable to move your head and neck. The pain is most often felt most when moving in a certain way eg, looking behind you when driving, sitting at a desk, getting out of bed.
This category of neck pain includes: muscle strains, torticollis (wry neck), muscle spasms, cervical facet joint dysfunction (locked neck joints), inability to turn head fully, postural muscle imbalances.
Radicular Neck Pain
This is the term used when the primary cause of the neck pain originates from the spinal discs or nerves. Similar to mechanical neck pain, this can be acute or chronic and it can happen following a specific accident/injury/trauma/incident or it can build up gradually over time. The typical characteristic of radicular neck pain is the pain (or tingling, weakness, pins and needles or numbness) that radiates down the arm, elbow, wrist or hand. It is often described as a deep nagging toothache type pain.
This category of neck pain includes: trapped nerves and herniated (slipped) discs.
Degenerative Neck Pain
This is the term used for pain that originates primarily from the joints and/or discs due to degeneration (wear and tear). There is often additional pain from the surrounding muscles and other soft tissues. Unfortunately, these degenerative changes can not be cured and pain management is the goal, which can be very effective in some cases.
This category of neck pain includes: osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, cervical facet joint degeneration, cervical disc degeneration, ligamentous hypertrophy (thickening) and spondylolisthesis.
What do we do about your Neck Pain?
There are many causes of neck pain and it is the job of our chiropractors to diagnose where your pain is originating from as well as why it has occurred, how to fix or manage it and whether you will need to change anything to ensure it does not happen again.
Ensuring an accurate diagnosis is important to enable the right choice of treatment and recommendations to be prescribed. If we feel the cause is outside the scope of our practice, we will tell you and advise you on which route you should be taking.
We discuss your neck pain with you
We examine your neck to test the joints, etc to find what areas aren't working
We decide if the areas not working are likely to be the cause of your pains
We proceed with treatment to correct the problems
We provide self care advice
We continue with further treatment and progressive self help measures over a set period of time
We then reassess to measure how much has changed
Treatment can vary from a few days with some injuries to 18 months with others.
It is very rare for back pain to be a sign of serious underlying pathology such as fractures, infections or tumours.