Neck pain can be, well, a “pain in the neck”. It is estimated that 10% of Americans (that’s 30,500,496 people!) are currently suffering from neck pain.
The traditional treatment prescribed by physicians utilizing pain relievers, muscle relaxants, rest, and possible soft collar application is no longer the acceptable standard of care as this regimen only produces symptomatic relief. According to a landmark report furnished by the Task Force on Neck Pain and its Associated Disorders (which can be found in the peer reviewed medical journal Spine), some of the most effective treatments for neck pain include manipulation, mobilization, massage, and exercise. In addition, cutting-edge research is exposing the benefits of brain-based therapeutic exercises for the relief and prevention of neck pain due to the brain’s intimate control of neck muscles.
The neck is the most dynamic part of the spine. Its main functions are to protect the spinal cord, provide the foundation for the skull, and act as a bridge connecting the skull with the rest of the body. However, it has to be flexible enough to allow movement in six different planes. This makes the neck the most vulnerable region of the spine to injury. It is lined with a high concentration of compression sensitive sensors (joint mechanoreceptors), which when triggered provide a high powered stimulation to the brain which is essential for its health. The small muscles which surround the neck play a large role in the overall health of the neck. Reflexes generated in these muscles in response to stretch relay through a certain part of the brain termed the cerebellum which then fire back to keep these same muscles strong. As a result, brain-based therapies geared towards the cerebellum produce amazing results concerning the overall stability of the neck.
The most common neck complaints involve three distinct structures: the disc, the posterior joints of the spine also known as the facet joints, and the soft tissue regions including the ligaments and tendons surrounding the spine. Injury to the discs which are found between the vertebrae and act as shock absorbers will produce moderate to severe neck pain with associated pain into the arm and hand. The pain may be relieved momentarily with elevation of the affected arm over the head. Facet joint injuries will also manifest as neck and arm pain but may start without an offensive behavior like a trauma and will typically produce pain down the outer arm into the hand. Lastly, soft tissue injury will normally produce localized pain with severe restriction of movement. Nausea and headache may accompany the pain. This is commonly found after motor vehicle accidents.
Many new, advanced therapies are combining physical medicine such as mobilization exercises, stretch/ strengthening exercises, myofascial release, traction, decompression, and nutrition with brain-based exercises targeting the cerebellum region of the brain. This approach not only focuses on the neck structures themselves but also the regions of the brain that control the deep intrinsic muscles of the neck producing greater stability. Stop hurting and start living.
The Conde Center For Chiropractic Neurology
401 West Atlantic Avenue, Suite #014
Delray Beach, FL 33444