2) LIGAMENTS: These are tough, non-stretching tissues that hold bone to bone and can tear in trauma like whiplash, while playing sports, or in a fall. Because ligaments are important in keeping our joints stable, disrupted ligaments can lead to excessive “play” in a joint and can wear down the cartilage or the smooth, silky covering at the ends of bones, which can lead to premature osteoarthritis (OA) – the “wear and tear” kind that everyone gets eventually.
3) WORN JOINTS: There is something called “the natural history of degeneration” that naturally occurs if we live long enough. As previously discussed, ligament tearing leads to instability of the involved joint(s), and excessive motion in the joint leads to OA. In the neck, there are two sets of small joints between six of the seven vertebrae called facet joints and uncinate processes that are vulnerable for OA and are frequent pain generators.
4) DISK INJURY: The disks rest between the big vertebral bodies and act as shock absorbers. They are like jelly donuts, and when the disk’s tough outer layers tear, the jelly can leak out and this may or may not hurt, depending on the direction, the amount of the leaked out “jelly,” and if the “jelly” pinches pain-sensitive tissues. A “herniated disk” is the most common cause for a pinched nerve (see next entry).
5) NERVE COMPRESSION: The nerves in the neck travel into the arms, and nerve compression or pinching can result in numbness/tingling/burning pain in the arm and/or hand with or without weakness. Each nerve has a different role, and by mapping the numbness area and testing reflexes and muscle strength, it can help your doctor identify the specific nerve that is injured.
6) DISEASES: Though significantly less common, neck pain can arise from certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, and/or cancer. When these are suspect, blood tests and special tests such as bone scan, CT/MRI, and/or biopsy can help to specifically identify the condition.
WHAT TO DO: Make an appointment and your doctor of chiropractic will perform a history, physical examination, and possibly take x-rays to help determine what is generating your pain. Once the diagnosis is understood, he or she will put together a treatment plan for you. This usually includes procedures done in the office as well as those that they will teach you how to do at home and/or work to help you manage your neck pain back and return to normal activities as quickly as possible!
We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for neck pain or headaches, we would be honored to render our services.
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