Neck pain is a common and has a variety of causes, including:
Muscle strains: The muscles around the neck, shoulder blade, and rib cage are used for postural support of the body. Overuse like poor posture when sitting at a computer often triggers muscle strains. Minor things like sleeping with too big of a pillow, quickly looking over shoulder when hunched over a steering wheel or clenching the jaw can strain neck muscles.
Degenerative changes: The bones of the neck and discs between them undergo wear and tear with age. This can cause degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) or degenerative disc disease (thinning of the discs) in your neck, resulting in increased stiffness and pain.
Nerve compression: Nerve compression in the neck can occur due to herniated discs or bone spurs. These structures compromise the space between bones where the nerves exit the spine. These structures press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord and cause pain, numbness, or tingling into the arm or fingers.
Injuries: Motor vehicle accidents and falls often result in whiplash injuries which occur when the head is jerked backward and forward. This stretches connective tissues of the neck beyond their limits, causing instability and pain in the neck.
Diseases: Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer can also cause neck pain.
Typical symptoms associated with neck pain include:
Pain in the neck, upper back, shoulder blade, shoulder
Pain typically throbbing, aching, heavy, sharp, shocking, shooting in nature
Numbness and tingling may be present in the arm, hand or finger
Pain typically worse with movement
Loss of motion due to neck stiffness
Weakness in the arm or hand
In severe cases: leg numbness or weakness, decreased bladder and/or bowel control, contact your physician immediately if you experience these sx’s
At Rebalance Physical Therapy, we use a holistic approach to treat neck pain. We differ from traditional therapies by looking at the whole body to identify additional problems that can also worsen the primary problem. We individualize evaluation and treatment in order to be most effective in addressing a person’s symptoms. We use the Integrated Systems Model (ISM) for Pain & Disability (Lee & Lee, 2007) as framework for treatment and interpret the unique picture of each individual patient. The goal of the ISM approach is to facilitate better strategies for posture and functional movement.
Whether it be sustained postural positions such as sitting at a desk or dynamic activities like picking up your child, functional activity requires integration of all regions of the body. When a patient presents with pain, along with functional limitations such as difficulty lifting, we determine how all areas of the body interact with each other during total body function. By considering the connections between all parts of the body, the patient’s injury history and pain experience can be better reasoned, explained and treated appropriately.
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