Acute neck pain is normally due to joint or muscle strain (overstretching or tearing of tendons and muscles) or soft tissue sprain (stretching or tearing of ligaments). These types of neck injuries are usually the result of sudden unexpected forces applied to the body, such as whiplash during car accidents or through sporting activities. Neck strains can also occur from instances where an awkward position is adopted for a prolonged period of time, such as sleeping in the wrong position or poor work posture.
The soft tissue in the neck has a good blood supply so in most cases, neck pain relief from minor injuries to the ligaments and tendons in the neck will heal quite quickly, usually within a few days or weeks. Non-surgical care, such as ice and/or heat, as well as physiotherapy, may reduce the recovery time and alleviate pain during the healing process.
- Sharp stabbing pain in one spot
- Tenderness in the affected area/s
- Stiffness and tightness that restricts head movement
- Pain that travels down the shoulders or arms
- Tingling or numbness that radiates down the upper back, shoulders or arms
- Difficulty gripping onto objects
- Pain with head movement in multiple directions
- Difficulty stabilising the head
- Dizziness, unsteadiness and/or double vision
- Loss of balance
- Loss of bladder control
In some cases, neck injuries can become continuous and radiate into other parts of the body such as the back, shoulders and arms. Increasing neck pain is a concern and should be evaluated further by your physician.
Although neck pain is a very common symptom, it can interfere with daily activities as well as our ability to have a good night’s sleep.
Sprains and strains are surprisingly common and can be brought on in many ways. A strain refers to a muscle or tendon being overstretched or torn while a sprain refers to a ligament being stretched or torn.
Common causes of neck strains and sprains include:
- Sports injury – a sudden movement of the neck or a collision.
- Poor posture – a tilted head for extended periods of time.
- Neck pain from sleeping in a bad position – overextending the neck for a long period of time.
- Whiplash – a jolting of the head back and forth.
- Repetitive motions – common in swimming or dance routines.
Neck pain is considered chronic when it continues for an extended period of time where soft tissue injuries would normally have healed.
The conventional beliefs are as follows:
Usually, chronic neck pain conditions are related to the cervical spine. Common causes may include:
Cervical Degenerative Disc – This is a natural process of wear and tear on the cervical spine over time. The discs in the spine slowly lose hydration and are unable to effectively cushion the vertebrae. In more severe cases, further degeneration can lead to a painful pinched nerve or a herniated disc.
Cervical Herniated Disc – This occurs when the protective outer layer of the disc tears and allows the jelly-like inner layer to leak though. Herniated discs may press against the cervical nerve or come close enough to cause irritation.
Cervical Osteoarthritis – The facet joints in the spine are supposed to move smoothly on the cartridge cushioning. However, as the facet joints wear down over time, they may grind bone on bone. This also places a risk on the nearby nerve to become pinched or pressed.
Cervical Spinal Stenosis with Nerve Root Compression (myelopathy) – Spinal stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal which may be caused by a herniated disc pushing into the spinal canal. As the spinal canal narrows, the spinal cord is at risk of being compressed resulting in myelopathy. Compression of the spinal cord may lead to symptoms of weakness and co-ordination issues with arms and legs.
The common belief from an orthopedic perspective is that a degenerated or herniated disc may lead to more serious conditions such as cervical osteoarthritis or nerve root compression commonly known as a pinched nerve. Recent anatomical studies have shown that the actual incidence of this is not high and nerve function is not affected even with a high percentage of spinal compression. A new perspective is that disc degeneration is a natural part of the normal ageing process and is not a direct cause to many of the symptoms you may be experiencing.
The Brisbane Spine Clinic has seen and successfully treated many clients who have shown severe degenerative findings on MRI or CT scans. Prior to seeing us at The Brisbane Spine Clinic, some of our clients had been offered invasive treatments such as steroid injections, radio-frequency nerve ablation, and surgery.
The Brisbane Spine Clinic offers a uniquely comprehensive approach to neck pain treatment by thoroughly examining and improving the mobility of the surrounding upper thoracic spine, improving shoulder girdle muscle functions and/or improving mobility and desensitising cervical nerve roots. We have helped numerous clients regain their neck function and alleviated their chronic neck pain symptoms.
From the moment you book in for your consultation till the completion of your spinal treatments, you will realise The Brisbane Spine Clinic difference.
- Peace of mind
- Clear communication
- Dedication and commitment
- Highest level of care
- Problem-solving approach
- Second opinions
- Non-invasive treatment