Up To Your Neck In Pain:
Cervical problems can cause pain, numbness and weakness down your arms, into your head and into your middle back. It can be caused by nerve compression, irritation, disc degeneration, spinal misalignment, spinal cord compression and many other things. We specialize in treating neck problem have not responded to therapy, injections or surgery.
A Real "Pain In The Neck"
…Now my neck was once again acting up in a different way. Despite the long drive all the way to Santa Monica, I wanted your professional care. Now, two months later, I am feeling infinitely better. ...As a physician I have worked with many patients myself. To be on the receiving end of such competent, concerned care has been a real treat and a real relief. It inspires me to work towards being an even better doctor myself with my own patients—to be as good as you are with yours. With grateful regards,
*--Hilary Siebens, MD Developer of the Physical Medicine Program at Harvard Medical School*
Pain anywhere in your body can destroy the enjoyment of life. Neck problems, in particular, often lead to headaches as well as radiating pain, numbness and weakness down your arms. Often just concentrating is impaired and even the weight of your head can feel extremet needing to be lifted. Playing tennis, reading, computer work, driving and just taking care of you and your family can eventually be overwhelming.
So if your neck problem is serious and has not received adequate help, in spite of seeing various professionals, than read on. This article and our center may be right for you. We know it's a lot of information, but it's designed to help you finally find the help you need.
What Are The Usual Causes of Neck Pain?
There are many causes of persistent and serious neck pain, but it usually originates in one of these areas:
- A protruding, bulging or herniated disc that presses into a cervical nerve.
A side view of the neck on x-ray: Notice the height of a normal, healthy disc and compare it to one that is degenerated. Degenerated discs limit the space for the spinal nerves to exit and can cause pain and stiffness.
- A vertebra that is slightly misaligned or fixated causing abnormal spinal mechanics, facet irritation and disc and spinal degeneration.
- Muscular spasm or imbalances leading to improper spinal mechanics and a feeling of “tightness.”
- Compression of the spinal canal is called Spinal Stenosis. When the compression is more severe, it can lead to spinal cord compression. This condition can be serious and lead to spasticity, generalized numbness and muscular weakness. Click Spinal Stenosis to find answers for this condition.Click here to see The Research Performed at The Spinal Stenosis and Disc Center For The Non-Surgical Treatment Of Spinal Cord Compression.
- A Superior Cervical Ganglion Syndrome is a severe neck disorder which compresses a large group of nerves cell bodies, in the upper neck, causing dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, blocked ears, light and sound hypersensitivity and severe difficulty with concentration. This condition is often disabling and misdiagnosed. Click Superior Cervical Ganglion Syndrome to find answers for this condition.
How Can I Tell Which Area Is Causing My Problem?
To find answers, you must first determine the section of your neck that is the problem. Luckily, each area of the spine refers pain and weakness to specific areas. Paying close attention to this symptom pattern, is a good place to begin. Just relying on MRIs or any other single test, leads many doctors to faulty conclusions, unhelpful surgeries and treatments that go nowhere.
The neck vertebrae (also called the cervical spine) is comprised of seven vertebrae. They’re labeled with numbers. The vertebra closest to your head is called: C1 (or Atlas) and the one below that is called C2 (orAxis). C3 is below that and so on for all seven cervical vertebrae. It’s the most mobile portion of the spine and has the smallest vertebrae, causing it to be the least stable.
The Upper Cervical Spine (C1-3)
The top two vertebrae, called the Atlas and Axis, hold and rotate your head. Because the nerves supplying the top of your head pass through these vertebrae, Misalignments and fixation of this area can cause headaches (often called tension or cervicogenic headaches). Irritation of the third cervical nerve is often associated with neck, sinus irritation and facial pain.
The upper cervical spine (C1 and C2) sends nerves to the top of your head and often cause headaches, dizziness and difficult concentration and, of course, upper neck pain..
The Middle Cervical Spine (C4-C6)
These vertebrae house the nerves that travel to your shoulders, the thumb side of your hand and your upper back. When compressed--pain, weakness and numbness may refer to these areas.
The Lower Cervical Spine (C6-T1)
The lower cervical spine affects the nerves going to the back of your arm, your entire forearm, the little finger side of your hand and your arm pit. Again, irritation of these nerves can affect these areas.
Picture of the middle and lower cervical spinal nerves exiting the spine on route to the arms, shoulders and upper back.
But What's Causing My Pain...My Vertebrae, Discs, Muscles, Alignment…?
Now that you have a better idea which part of the cervical spine may be involved, let's find the type of tissue that may be causing it. As we said earlier, answering these questions is essential in treating difficult neck problems and is just as important as the correct reading of an MRI. Yet, we believe this is one of the places most spinal clinics fall short.
According to most scientific journals, MRIs show the true cause of spine related pain only about 50% of the time. Learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of MRIs by reading the article I've written, MRIs: What Doctors and Patients Need to Know.
Back to our hunt for the cause of your pain--fortunately each tissue, when damaged, causes specific sensations, for example:
- A Disc Herniation into a nerve often causes very sharp and severe pain that radiates down to the arms or upper back when coughing, sneezing or quickly moving your neck. Often numbness, tingling and muscular weakness in the arms occur as well. Click Answers For Disc Herniation to find answers for these problems.
- Disc Degeneration (often associated with arthritic spurring and degnerative joint disease) can create symptoms like a disc herniation, but may also cause achiness, stiffness, limited movement and possibly even grinding when trying to turn or tilt your head. Click on disc degeneration to learn more about this condition.
- Misalignment (also called Subluxation) of the spine is usually less chronic and rarely radiates down the arms. It can create a “stiff neck” and pain with neck movement. It can also make your neck feel tired and achy and may cause a headache (even chronic headaches). This is often over diagnosed by Chiropractors and under diagnosed by medical physicians. Chiropractors and Osteopaths are best suited to treat these problems. Improvements should be noticeable within a few treatments; if not, consider a different diagnosis.
- Muscular spasms and imbalances will cause achiness and tightness in the neck and may even cause some pain to refer to your shoulders, but rarely further down your arms. Massage and stretching will usually relieve the problem especially when combined with changing bad postural habits. Physical Therapists, Chiropractors and Osteopaths should be able to handle these problems.
- Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal and can be very progressive and serious. It can lead to generalized numbness in your arms and legs as well as muscular spasticity and weakness. Loss of bladder and bowel control can be a sign the condition needs immediate attention. An MRI is essential in making this diagnosis. Our center is one of the leading places in the world for this condition. Learn more about Spinal Stenosis by clicking this link.
- A Superior Cervical Ganglion Syndrome is caused by compressed upper cervical nerves that travel to your eyes, ears, and the blood vessels in your head. It can cause vertigo, numbness, hypersensitivity to light and sound and many other symptoms. But,one defining finding is an acutely tender spot in the upper neck that, when lightly touched, can reproduce some of the main complaints. Our center is one of the first to describe this condition and develop a treatment program that is very sucessful.
What Treatments Are Available For These Problems?
Minor problems, including muscular spasms and minor misalignments respond well to chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy and a change in postural habits. In fact, click on the following links to learn some basic stretches and modifications to your work place that may provide the help you need.
What Treatment is Provided at The Morris Spinal Stenosis and Disc Center
Our office specializes in spine conditions that have not responded to traditional care. Most of our patients have been to several doctors and centers and have tried physical therapy, chiropractic and pain management unsuccessfully. 20% of our patients have already had a spinal surgery that failed.
Our approach is unique and the most comprehensive that we’ve seen. We start by working with the leading doctors and therapists in the Los Angeles area who specialize in the spine and combine all aspects of treatment in a specific and coordinated effort. Some of the treatments include:
Spinal Alignment using Chiropractic and other physical medicine approaches.
Rehabilitation (in office and in a gym) to return proper movement and strength to damaged tissue.
Balancing Chronically Imbalanced Muscles and Soft Tissue with physical medicine techniques, rehabilitation and structural and ergonomic changes.
Inversion Therapy as a method of reducing the effects of gravity in specific conditions.
Computerized Biofeedback to assess and train the stabilizer muscles in the torso.
Epidural, Trigger Point, Facet Blocks --not to be used as a cure, but to provide relief while going through some of the initial phases of treatment (only in very severe cases).
Most of our patient’s have had some or all of these treatments in an uncoordinated and disorganized manner. Our approach has produced results that are unmatched in medical literature