Neck pain is a common symptom that affects many adults at some point in time during their lives. Neck pain may be localized to the neck and shoulder region but may also radiate to the arm or hand. The pain is often described as dull and achy, but sometimes may be sharp. Numbness, tingling, arm weakness or pins and needles may also accompany the neck pain. Causes of neck pain include: emotional distress, cervical spondylosis (arthritis), fibromyalgia, herniated disc, meningitis, muscle strain, rheummatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis, and trauma such as whiplash. The neck pain is often aggravated by neck movements (such as looking over your blind spot in the car), prolonged static postures, and sometimes with coughing/sneezing. Neck pain typically will resolve within a few weeks, but some cases can become chronic. Imaging is rarely necessary.
Since the list of possible causes of neck pain is numerous, Chiropractic Physicians must conduct a comprehensive examination including a thorough history and examination to find the origin of the neck pain. If the neck pain is coming from the neuromusculoskeletal system, conservative care is recommended. If the neck pain is coming from an underlying systemic disease, the patient must be referred appropriately.
Initial Chiropractic treatment includes a combination of exercise therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and education, Education should be geared around explaining the following: what is causing the neck pain (including the anatomical structures as well as other factors such as genetic, social, etc.), what treatments will be recommended to remedy the pain, how long/how often treatment will occur, and the expected prognosis.
Patients are advised to remain active to avoid chronic neck pain or disability. Exercise therapy includes supervised and home-based exercises to increase range of motion, strengthen and decrease pain. Cognitive behavioral therapy includes exposing patients to movements/postures that may be feared related to the recent or past episodes of neck pain. Co-management with behavioral health specialists can be extremely helpful for managing co-existing anxiety and depression.
Adjunct therapies include manual therapy including joint manipulation and/or myofascial release. Manual therapies are used to decrease pain, increase joint range of motion, and ultimately to allow patients to integrate into regular physical activity and exercise participation. When patients are not responding to conservative care, patients may be co-managed with pain management physicians or referred for neurosurgery.
Neck pain can be a very debilitating symptom; however, when addressed properly from the initial examination to the final therapy session, a positive outcome can be achieved.
Source: Mayo Clinic