The neck or cervical spine as it is known, is an extremely complex structure and there are dozens of things that can go wrong with it that end up causing pain. The chief structures that tend to cause the problem are the muscles, the discs and the facet joints. These three areas cause the majority of pain that most people feel in the neck.
Neck pain and shoulder pain often go together. There are 17 different muscles that attach to the shoulder blade or scapula and the shoulder itself is also an extremely complex and mobile joint. Treatment for neck pain must commonly also involve treatment for the shoulder or scapular area and its attendant muscles.
Neck pain can also often cause headache or what is known as a “cervicogenic” or neck-caused headache. The tension that begins in the neck can be “transferred” to the head by a variety of means, often times, treating the neck will end up causing headaches to go away or lessen.
The cervical discs can cause several painful conditions when they have been damaged. Disc bulges or herniations occur when the central part of one of the discs in the neck, which is a fluid filled sac in the center of the disc called the nucleus pulposus, bursts open and the liquid inside leaks out. When the liquid presses against the outside margin of the concentric rings of cartilage that make up the disc, it is called a disc bulge. If the liquid actually presses out from the margin, it is called a disc herniation.
Often times, these disc bulges and herniations are not of themselves the cause of the pain, but when the bulge or herniation presses against one of the nerves or nerve roots in the small opening where the nerves come out called the IVF (inter-vertebral foramen), it can cause “pins and needles” sensations or pain in the arm or hand since the nerves from the neck go out to innervate the structures of the arm, hand and fingers.
Facet problems can also cause neck pain. The facet joint is the part of the neck (also called the zygapophyseal joint or Z-joint) that allows the vertebrae to stack on top of one another without falling off of each other. The facet joint on the vertebrae below sits flush against the facet joint on the vertebrae above and interlocks with it, so that the vertebrae will not slide off when bending forward and backward. Some people have abnormalities of the facet joints that cause a variety of pains and this is the main spot that causes pain in people who get “whiplash” syndrome.
The facet joint is the main place where the “popping” sound comes from when chiropractic manipulation is performed. The facet joints allow rotation, flexion and extension but they don’t allow the vertebrae to slide forward and backward. If this happens due to an abnormality or fracture in the cervical spine, it can cause damage to the spinal cord, thus the facet joints are responsible for helping to protect the integrity of the spinal canal in which the spinal cord runs.
The muscles in the neck are small and numerous.
As mentioned before, many of the muscles in the neck also insert or attach onto the scapula or “shoulder blade” and they are responsible for much of the neck pain that people feel. Muscles can have a variety of dysfunctions including the development of “trigger points” or tender spots that cause muscle problems as well as tendon or muscle sprain/strains and there are also problems that can develop from the imbalance of muscles in the neck, specifically wen muscles are too tight or are too weak.
Obviously in order to treat neck pain, a therapist must first be able to properly and accurately diagnose what exactly is causing the problem and then they must be able to adequately treat the underlying problem. Without understanding the problem and knowing what can go wrong in the neck, it is nearly impossible to efficiently get rid of the pain.
Our clinical director, Dr. Johnsen, has special training in the treatment of neck disorders. Not only is he highly certified in the detection and treatment of whiplash disorders arising from auto accidents, but he has also gone through extensive training over several years to diagnose and treat other types of neck pain and shoulder pain that are of disparate causes.
In addition to his superior training, Dr. Johnsen also has extensive experience in actually treating patients and has treated over 4000 patients, most of whom have had some form of neck pain, over his 18 years of practice in Massachusetts.
If you have neck pain or shoulder pain, whatever the cause, due to a car accident, work accident or even if you just woke up with the pain one morning, our office is here to help you find and remove the cause of your pain. We will work with you as your partner in rapidly reducing or eliminating your pain. We have a long track record in getting people better and if you visit our testimonials page, you will see hundreds of people who can share their experience at our office with you.
Callus now at (413) 737-7787 and get on the right path to relief from your pain. We not only do the examination, diagnoses and treatment but we also take care of the difficulty process of billing your insurance and dealing with the insurance companies so you don’t have to. Call us right now if you would like to receive a no-cost injury severity evaluation. Don’t put it off! Now is the time to act to get rid of your pain.