Understanding the Root Causes of Neck Pain | Physical Therapy for everyBODY
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Understanding the Root Causes of Neck Pain

Neck Pain

Understanding the Root Causes of Neck Pain

Do you suffer from persistent neck pain that just won’t go away? You are not alone. Neck pain is a very common complaint that leads to fear and anxiety as you are wondering

What is Causing My Neck Pain?

Today we are going to delve into the structures in your neck that may be causing your neck pain, the different issues that may be affecting your neck pain, as well as offering you some treatment options to help you take control of your neck pain. Understanding the root causes of you neck pain is important to devise an effective strategy for prevention and management of neck pain.

The Neck Pain Generators

There are several structures in your neck that may be causing your neck pain. Understanding what is causing your neck pain can help to eliminate some of the concern over this problem.

Vertebra – You have 7 cervical vertebrae that make up the cervical spine. Each of these vertebrae has a portion that sticks out to the side called the transverse process. These processes interact with each other and form joints which can get stuck. When that happens, you often suffer with a repetitive sharp pain each time you try to move your head in a specific direction.

Discs – In between each vertebrae you have a cervical disc. The discs help to create space between the vertebrae and allow for normal motion in your neck. Improper movement or trauma can cause damage to these discs so they get injured. This can lead to an area specific pain with any type of neck movement.

Muscles – Over the vertebrae and discs, we have tons of different muscles in our neck. Muscle tension, poor posture, improper breathing, and trauma can lead to muscle strain that causes significant neck pain.

Fascia – On top of everything else you have fascia that helps to bind everything together. Fascia is a very tough substance that literally connects the top of our head to the tip of our toes. If you find yourself with constant pain and tension at the bottom of your head then you might be suffering with a fascial issue.

Nerves – Next to the discs you have a nerve root that comes out on each side. These nerve roots can get irritated by inflammation from the vertebrae, discs, or muscles. The nerves will usually cause pain that radiates into your arms and may even travel down to your hands. If you suffer with numbness and tingling in both arms at the same time, chances are that your nerve issue is starting in your neck.

Now that you understand the structures that are causing neck pain, let’s talk about what causes these structures to get irritated leading to neck pain.

Neck Pain Causes

Poor Posture – In today’s digital age, where screens dominate our lives, poor posture has become increasingly prevalent. We are constantly hunched over computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices that can lead to strain in our neck muscles and chronic neck pain. The head weighs an average of 10-12 pounds, and when it is tilted forward, the strain on the neck muscles intensify. Which can lead to

Muscle Tension and Strain – Muscles tension and strain are common culprits behind neck pain, often arising from repetitive movements, over work, or excessive stress. When the muscles in the neck and upper back are subjected to prolonged tension, they can become tight and knotted, leading to discomfort and restricted range of motion. Activities such as carrying heavy loads, poor sleeping positions, or engaging in repetitive motions without proper ergonomics can exacerbate muscle strain.

Degenerative Disorders – As we age, degenerative changes in the cervical spine become more prevalent, contributing to neck pain and stiffness. Conditions such as cervical spondylosis, herniated discs, and osteoarthritis can result in structural abnormalities, nerve compression, and inflammation, leading to chronic discomfort.

Improper breathing – The relationship between breathing patterns and neck pain is often overlooked but significant. Shallow breathing, commonly associated with stress or anxiety, can contribute to tension in the neck and shoulder muscles. When we breathe shallowly, the accessory muscles of respiration, which are found in the neck, may become overactive, leading to strain and discomfort.

Trauma or Injury – Acute trauma or injury, such as whiplash from a car accident, falls, or sports-related incidents, can cause sudden and severe neck pain. Prompt medical evaluation is crucial in such causes to rule out serious underlying damage and initiate appropriate treatment for complete healing.

What Can You Do About Neck Pain?

Seek Help for Nerve Issues – If you are struggling with numbness and tingling in one or both arms or hands then you need to seek help from a Specialist (like us!) immediately to find the root cause of your issue. Nerve issues can heal with early and appropriate treatment but can become bigger issues quickly that require surgery. Our Specialists here at Physical Therapy for everyBODY are able to reverse nerve symptoms and eliminate your neck pain.

Get Joints Moving Better – When your joints are tight it not only leads to pain but can lead to degeneration over time. It’s important to get joints moving correctly to eliminate pain and avoid long term issues in your neck.

Stretch Your Muscles – Gentle stretching to the muscles can help them to relax so that they can function correctly. It not only relieves pain but actually improves muscle function so that your neck can move correctly.

Improve Posture – Having your spine stacked correctly as you go through your daily activities decreases stress to the structures in your neck. When you are sitting or standing make sure that your head is on top of your shoulders, your shoulders are over your hips, and you are bearing weight equally through both feet. If you find that you can’t get in this position on your own, you need to seek help from a Specialist who can figure out why.

Ice for Pain Relief – Ice is a powerful pain inhibitor. It can give you relief to allow the structures in your neck to move correctly again. 3-5 minutes of ice (every hour if needed) can help you feel better and move correctly.

If you are suffering with numbness and tingling in one or both or your arms then we encourage you to contact us immediately for a complimentary Discovery Visit where we will listen to your journey and help to determine the next best step for you. Many people are wondering if they should get an X-ray or MRI to figure out what is causing their numbness and tingling. We offer this 100% free visit to help you make that decision.

If you have been suffering with constant neck pain lasting more than 3 weeks and you have already tried the tips above – and they are not helping – then it’s time for you to schedule a Discovery Visit. We will discuss what you have already try and explain why these tips are not working for you. If you have already searched the internet, watched all the videos, and tried all the things then what do you have to lose?

Dr. Amy Konvalin

Dr. Amy Konvalin

Struggling with pain and dysfunction can impact every part of our lives — it drains our energy, distracts us from our goals, and keeps us from the people and activities we love. As an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, Dr. Amy Konvalin understands how frustrating those limitations can be — and she knows how to help get you back to the life you want to live! Beginning with a focused evaluation, Dr. Amy works to determine the root causes of your pain, as well as understanding how it affects the way you move through your world. Dysfunctional patterns of movement often grow worse with time and cause further damage if left untreated — so it’s important to address these issues as soon as possible. Dr. Amy knows there is no one-size-fits-all plan for success, and she partners with patients to identify their unique treatment goals and personal values. Using these goals as a guide, Amy uses her doctorate training in manual (hands-on) therapy and exercise prescription to treat patients with a wide variety of medical challenges and histories throughout the Maple Valley, Black Diamond and Covington areas. Dr. Amy is also a wife to a Boeing superstar/former C-130 navigator. While they lived in Germany, Dr. Amy was able to volunteer with the US Army to treat military personnel and civilians on base. She has two beautiful teenage ballerinas who keep her on her toes and educate her on all things ballet! Bailey, the princess pup, is her running partner and her napping partner. In the spare moments in between, Amy enjoys reading, yoga, wine with friends, Pilates, and walking on the beach.
Dr. Amy Konvalin

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