Neck Pain and Treatment

Neck pain can occur on its own or in combination with other pains of the head, shoulder, arm, or hand. Some of the more common causes of pain in the neck include facet joint irritation, discogenic pain, muscle spasm, and osteoarthritis. The appropriate diagnosis and treatment of neck pain significantly and efficiently improves outcomes.

Facet Joint Irritation:
Facet joint irritation can occur at any level of the spine, though it is often seen in cases of neck pain when a patient describes having a “kink in the neck”. Irritations of the facets occurs as either limitations in normal range of motion at a joint (a restricted facet joint), or, too much or improper motion at the joint (a facet joint sprain). In both cases, pain, stiffness, and sensitivity at the level of the irritation occurs.

Treatment for facet joint irritations include: joint mobilizations, joint manipulations, and rehabilitation exercise

Discogenic Pain:
Discogenic pain is a term that encompasses pain caused by the irritation, bulge, or herniation of a disc. This type of pain can occur at any level of the spine and is commonly seen in cases of neck pain that also involve pain or other symptoms in the shoulder, arm, or hand. Disc injuries of the neck most commonly occur in patients 20 to 40 years of age and often occur as the result of trauma, or straining or rotating improperly. The pain tends to be intense and may present with burning, numbness, tingling, or clumsiness in the shoulder, arm, or hand. Diligent assessment and diagnosis is important for the
formation of an appropriate plan of action and for the prevention of complications.

Treatment options include: electro-acupuncture, Active Release Techniques, and rehabilitation exercises.

Muscle Spasm:
Muscle spasm in the neck is often caused by sudden, unexpected, or aberrant movement patterns that cause improper muscle splinting and stabilization. Muscle spasm of the neck is often seen in whiplash associated disorders and in cases of torticollis, more commonly known as wryneck; a condition in which muscle spasm leads to tilting and rotating of the head upon the neck. Muscle spasms of the neck frequently result in extreme dysfunction and stiffness that may be persistent or recurrent. Soft tissue therapies followed by strengthening exercises are effective in the treatment and prevention of muscle spasm and its potential recurrence.

Treatment options include: massage, Active Release Techniques, electrotherapeutic modalities, rehabilitation exercise.

Osteoarthritis:
Osteoarthritis occurs when the joint space between articulating bones decreases; it can occur at any joint within the body and is a very common condition resulting from use, overuse, and normal processes of aging. Osteoarthritis can cause pain and stiffness leading to overuse of surrounding soft tissues as a compensation mechanism. Although osteoarthritis, itself, cannot be reversed, the symptoms of it can be significantly reduced using manual therapies and exercise.

Treatments for the symptoms of osteoarthritis: strength and stability exercise, acupuncture, Laser, and Active Release Techniques.