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Your Pain

NECK CONDITIONS

CERVICAL SUBLUXATION

The term "subluxation" refers the loss of normal position or motion in a spinal joint. When this occurs in the cervical spine (neck) it frequently causes joint and muscle pain which may refer up into the head and/or out into the shoulder and arm. Inflammation, taut and tender neck muscles and a loss of motion in the neck may occur. If left untreated for great periods of time, it may lead to degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis), degenerative disc disease and other neurological consequences.

WHIPLASH

Whiplash, also known as cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome (CAD), occurs frequently as a result of motor vehicle accidents, high impact sports collisions, slips and falls. When a sudden impact, like a car collision, brings the body to a halt, the head wants to keep traveling. It pulls on the neck, snapping backward and forward, damaging ligaments, muscles, tendons, vertebrae, vertebral joints and other related structures.

Those who have whiplash often develop neck pain and stiffness within hours or days following the accident. Other symptoms that may follow include headaches, blurry vision, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, shoulder pain and back pain.

Rear end collisions are the most common cause of the injury. Usually, someone is in a stopped or slow-moving car gets hit from behind and doesn't have time to react.

In extreme cases, whiplash can cause a vertebral fracture, which can lead to severe spinal cord injuries. While the vast majority of whiplash injuries do not involve fractures that lead to instability, it's important to have your injury evaluated immediately.

Whiplash responds extremely well to neuromuscular reeducation, icing, manipulation and rehabilitative exercise.

POSTURAL SYNDROME

Postural syndrome could easily be called "slouching syndrome." It refers to an inability to sit up straight, because of a forward head and rounded shoulders.

Postural syndrome can cause physical changes to the body and painful side effects. Most people with the condition notice their shoulders are rounded and tend to droop forward. The resulting position can cause constant, aching pain, stiffness and even burning in the upper and middle back areas, as well as in the shoulder, neck and head. Over time, poor posture can also lead to the development of trigger points (tight muscle fibers), which can refer pain throughout the back and neck, as well as cause headaches.

Poor posture usually develops gradually in people who sit improperly for long periods. Think about how much time you spend sitting. You probably sit in your car, at work, when you're eating meals and when you're watching television. You probably tend to sit with a forward bend with your shoulders hunched forward. This is the opposite of good posture, which is a state of musculoskeletal balance that involves minimal stress on the body.

Over time, poor posture can cause tendinitis, repetitive strain injuries, headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and back pain.

Postural syndrome can be eliminated with neuromuscular reeducation, chiropractic care, rehabilitative exercises and ergonomic changes.

CERVICAL FACET SYNDROME

The pain of facet syndrome is like a fuzzy picture. When a picture is out of focus, you can only make out shadows and shapes but no actual details. Those with facet syndrome often describe their pain this way. They can't focus in and point to where it originates.

Neck pain, stiffness, headaches, shoulder pain and upper back pain are common symptoms of facet syndrome. The pain often worsens when people with this condition put their neck in certain positions (like rotated to the side, bent back or leaned forward), after they do activities that involve extending the neck and after they experience long periods of inactivity, like sleeping. It tends to get better though out the day as the muscles loosen up.

Cervical facet syndrome can develop after patients suddenly turn their head, have a car accident, hold their neck in a particular position for a long time, have vertebral subluxations (stuck or misaligned joints), or develop poor posture or sleeping habits.

Workers with occupations which require them to sit at a desk and utilize phones and computers for extended periods of time are at greater risk.

The pain comes from the cervical facet joints, which are joints in the back of the vertebrae (spinal bones) in your neck. When these joints are stuck, misaligned or irritated, local inflammation develops that can lead to subsequent irritation of surrounding nerves. When this happens, the irritated facet joint can refer (move) pain through these nerves to other areas of the body. The exact area the pain moves to depends on which facet joint is irritated. The second and third facet joints, for example, may refer pain into the back, while the sixth and seventh joints may refer pain into the shoulder blade area.

Facet syndrome is closely related to facet irritation, which is a similar condition that involves irritation and dysfunction of the facet joint. The difference between the two is that with facet irritation the pain is localized to the facet joints and with facet syndrome the pain is present in the joints as well as other areas.

CERVICAL JOINT DEGENERATION (Osteoarthritis)

Virtually every movement of your head involves the spinal joints of your neck. To prevent these joints from wearing down during these movements, our joints rely on cartilage, a spongy tissue that helps to cushion the friction between connecting bones. Without it, everyday activities would be extremely painful.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes this cartilage to break down and become rough and flaky, making movements in the affected areas more difficult. OA usually occurs in weight-bearing joints, like hips or the knees, which support the body. However, any joint can become affected. In fact, OA can occur in several joints or regions of the body at the same time. It's possible, for example, to have pain and degeneration in one knee and not the other, and at the same time in the neck or hip.

Patients with OA often report having mild pain, morning stiffness and limited range of motion in the affected joint or region. The pain tends to come in bouts, with particularly painful periods followed by periods of relief. Patients usually report the most discomfort at night and after extensive use of the affected joint. Some patients also complain of a complete loss of motion in certain areas, although this is rare.

Age and improper joint movement for extended periods of time play a role in the development of Osteoarthritis. Obesity also increases the risk of becoming affected as extra weight puts more stress on joints. Almost everyone experiences some changes in their joints by the age of 40, and although few people show any symptoms, OA occurs most often in those who are middle-aged or older.

While there is no cure for OA, manipulation, exercise and nutritional supplementation promote joint health, relieve pain and assist in preventing further degeneration.

CERVICAL DISC DEGENERATION

Cervical disc degeneration is a well-known cause of pain and muscle spasms in the neck, shoulder, arm and hand. Weakness, numbness, pins and needles are also commonly reported in these areas as a result of cervical disc degeneration.

Intervertebral discs provide for appropriate spacing, cushioning and movement of the spine. These discs are soft, fluid-filled pads. These discs may become "herniated" or ruptured due to traumatic events or steady physical wear and tear over an extended period of time. Work or activities which require repetitive lifting, bending, twisting or prolonged sitting put people at greater risk.

Once the disc becomes herniated, the gel-like material in its center may spill out into the surrounding area and compress or irritate the spinal cord or peripheral nerves leading to serious neurological compromise.

As herniations or tears to the intervertebral disc usually occur on the side of the disc, the pain is usually worse on the corresponding side of the neck. The pain can worsen with coughing, straining, sneezing, as well as slouching or bending, which compresses irritated discs in the spine.

While extreme cases of cervical disc degeneration may require surgery, the majority of these cases respond extremely well to conservative chiropractic care and physical therapy.

CERVICAL SPONDYLOSIS

This is a condition in which degenerative changes in the intervertebral disc as well as the formation of bony spurs narrow the spinal canal. If spinal cord compression results, individuals may develop difficulty walking, tight leg muscles and a loss of balance and coordination. In mild to moderate cases, care must be taken to maintain safe range of motion and prevent inflammation. In severe cases, surgery may be required to decompress the spinal cord.

THORACIC OUTLET SYNDROME

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) can be an extremely painful and debilitating condition affecting the upper extremities. It is a compression of the nerve and/or vascular structures which pass through the "thoracic outlet region" to supply the arms. Compression may be as a result of a "cervical rib", mal-positioned first rib or tight musculature.

TOS symptoms may include numbness, tingling, coldness and pain in the affected extremity. Its symptoms may mimic those of cervical disc degeneration, cervical radiculitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and even bursitis of the shoulder.

TOS responds extremely well to chiropractic manipulative therapy, neuromuscular reeducation, rehabilitative exercises and postural recommendations.

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