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Understanding and Managing Neck Pain

Neck pain is shockingly common in our society, and understanding the causes and prevention of it will go a long way toward leading a healthy and pain free life.

Did you know that neck pain is actually the second most common reason people visit a chiropractor (the first reason being low back pain).

In this educational summary, I’ll discuss some of the most common conditions we see in our office:

  1. Upper Crossed Syndrome

  2. Neck Sprain/Strain

  3. Disc Pain

  4. Cervical Radiculopathy

Lets begin shall we?

Upper Crossed Syndrome

By far the most common reason for neck and upper back pain. Upper Crossed Syndrome describes a type of common muscle imbalance (thank you texting, cellular devices, ipads, desk jobs).

This occurs when the neck flexors (muscles in the front of your neck) and the middle back (muscles beneath the shoulder blades) become weak while the pectoral muscles (muscles of the chest and front shoulder) and the muscles at the base of the skull become tight.  This produces a familiar pain pattern at the base of the neck and the shoulders, as well as joint dysfunction at the base of the skull and shoulders.

Upper Crossed Syndrome

The main physical causes of this condition are:

  1. Desk jobs

  2. Too much sitting

  3. Driving long hours

  4. Poor posture

However, with the proper education, you can protect yourself from many of these causes.

The primary sufferers of this condition, especially chronic cases, often have poor posture while sitting at a desk for most of the day. A co-morbid factor is a sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity. This poor sitting posture leads to a re-enforcement of the Upper Crossed Syndrome, and it is crucial that you arrange your workstation to facilitate a proper posture as best as possible.

The best way to combat this problem is, of course, to prevent it before it starts. If possible, minimize sitting for long periods of time and take frequent work breaks to take short walks around the office to reset your posture.

If the problem has already begun, we can teach you proper form and posture to prevent this problem in the future so that you are more mindful of the positions that can promote this problem. We are also trained in soft tissue and stretching techniques that will be able to relax your tight muscles, restore motion and reduce pain levels. There are also methods of rehabilitative exercise that can be taught to you to reverse any damage already done by strengthening the weak muscles and prevent a progression of this condition. This is crucial to instill healthy habits for you to employ for the rest of your life.

Neck Strain/Sprains

Cervical strains and sprains are some of the most common injuries experienced in the cervical spine. A cervical strain is when an injury occurs to the muscles of the cervical spine. A sprain, on the other hand, is an injury to the ligaments or joints; both, however, have similar pain and symptom patterns.

Patients suffering from this diagnosis often have pain when attempting to move the head and neck, especially at end ranges of motion. Another symptom that sufferers’ may experience is frequent headaches, which may not seem directly evident to the patient that the source of the headaches may be caused by their cervical strain or sprain.

The main physical causes of this condition are: