Neck pain is a surprisingly common complaint. Up to 70% of patients report experiencing at least one episode of significant neck pain during their life.
Neck pain can be defined as subjective discomfort in the area between the head and upper chest. It can be caused by poor posture; awkward sleeping or resting positions and wear & tear (such as arthritis). In rare conditions neck pain is a symptom of a serious medical condition.
Two Types of Neck Pain
There are two types of neck pain mechanical and non-mechanical.
Mechanical neck pain is caused by injury or trauma. Non-mechanical neck pain is due to underlying pathology or disease.
Causes of mechanical neck pain includes:
- text neck
- neck strain/sprain
- cervical spondylosis
- disc derangement
- cervical fracture
- stinger/brachial plexus
- traction injury
Causes of non-Mechanical neck pain includes:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Reiter’s Syndrome
- Paget’s Disease
What to expect at your appointment for a complaint of neck pain:
You should expect to provide a full medical history to your healthcare provider. An event or physical complaint that you think is entirely unrelated to your neck pain may provide essential information needed to make a correct diagnosis.
Your doctor will perform a full physical exam, including sensation and strength testing. Your doctor may order X-rays, CT or an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. If non-mechanical neck pain is suspected, blood work will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
When to seek emergency care for neck pain
Seek immediate professional help if your neck pain is associated with any of the following symptoms:
- IV drug use
- History of cancer
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lower limb spasticity
- Numbness or loss of strength of the arms
- Shooting pain down one or both arms
What a chiropractor can do for neck pain:
Chiropractic treatment options include:
- Neck exercises and stretches
- Ergonomic training
- Electrical stimulation/TENS treatment
Neck pain can have a multitude of causes and should always be checked by a qualified professional such as a chiropractor or medical doctor.