A Neck Pain Clinic in Alaska
Treat Your Neck Pain in Anchorage, Alaska
The neck, also called the cervical spine, is one of the most flexible and movable parts of the human body. Sometimes all this motion makes the neck susceptible to problems. The cervical spine is made up of seven bones called vertebrae. The cervical spine has a c-shaped curve, which acts like a shock absorber and is very important for normal functioning of the neck area. Neck pain and stiffness that occur repeatedly may indicate a serious problem and the need for neck pain treatment at a Neck Pain Clinic such as Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab.
Neck pain treatment should be based on the types of neck pain being experienced. There basically are three types of neck pain. These include Axial Neck Pain, which can manifest in the form of whiplash or muscle strain; Radiculopathy, which manifests through neck pain, numbness and associated weakness in the arms and the neck region; and Myelopathy, which causes weakness in the arms and legs, along with neck pain, causing walking difficulties. Most neck pain is related to problems with the cervical discs, the discs in the neck.
Most often, neck pain treatment is chosen on the basis of whether the neck pain is chronic, acute or just plain unmanageable. However, more and more people today prefer treatments that are based on natural methods and have fewer side effects- such as chiropractic care & rehabilitative therapy. It is important to seek the advice of your doctor before resorting to any kinds of neck pain treatment that may be administered at home.
Common Conditions of the Cervical Spine
The cervical spine starts at the base of the skull. Seven bones or vertebrae make up the cervical spine with eight pairs of cervical nerves. The individual cervical vertebrae are called C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6 and C7. The cervical nerves are also abbreviated C1 through C8. The cervical bones are smaller in size when compared to other vertebrae of the back. The purpose of the cervical spine is to protect the spinal cord, support the skull and enable multiple head movements such as rotating, bending the neck side to side and bending the head forward and backward.
Ligaments, tendons and muscles help to support and stabilize the cervical spine. Ligaments work to prevent excessive movement of the vertebrae that could result in serious injury. Muscles also help to provide balance and stability and enable movement. Muscles contract and relax in response to nerve impulses originating in the brain. There are different types of muscles: flexors (forward motion), lateral flexors (side to side), rotators and extensors (backward motion).
Nerve impulses travel to and from the brain through the spinal cord to a specific location by way of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The PNS is the complex system of nerves that branch off from the spinal nerve roots. These nerves travel outside of the spinal canal or spinal cord into the organs, arms, legs, fingers - throughout the entire body.
Injury or mild trauma to the cervical spine can cause a serious or life-threatening medical emergency that will send you to a hospital or a neck pain clinic. Pain, numbness, weakness and tingling are symptoms that may develop when one or more spinal nerves are injured, irritated or stretched. The cervical nerves control many bodily functions and sensory activities. The C1 and C2 nerves help control the head and neck muscles, C3 your diaphragm or the muscle that helps you breath, C4 the muscles of your upper body, C5 arm flexors, C6 wrist extensors, C7 your triceps muscle and C8 helps control the muscles of your hands.
Strains and Sprains
Violent hyperextention (backward bending) or flexion (forward bending) may cause stretching of the neck muscles and ligaments. Acute neck pain or spasm for 24-48 hours is the most common symptom. Beware of symptoms that indicate disc injury beyond mild neck pain such as numbness or tingling in one or both arms or loss of muscle strength in the arms. Discs are more prone to be injured when the head is rotated during hyperextension and flexion injuries, as in a whiplash injury.
Cervical Disc Degenerative Disease
Healthy discs are flexible, like a moist sponge. However, injuries too the neck can cause small tears in the disc, causing neck pain and causing the disc to lose fluid and wear thin. Ultimately, the vertebrae on either side of the disc begin to rub together, becoming rough and worn down. This does not allow the neck to bend in its proper motion, causing loss of flexibility.
Herniated or bulging discs
This occurs when the material in the middle of the neck disc ruptures or pushes to one side. This can cause neck pain, pressure, pinched nerves and swelling. Bulging discs in the neck eventually lead to disc degeneration. Symptoms of bulging/herniated discs include pain in the neck, pain in the arms, numbness/tingling in the neck or down the arms into the hands, weakness, stiffness and swelling.
Cervical Spinal Stenosis
Cervical stenosis is when the canal where the cord runs, or the hole where the nerve exits the vertebral column, starts to reduce in size. Disc bulges and herniations are one cause of cervical stenosis. Arthritis in the joints of the spine can lead to stenosis as well. The narrowing of the spinal canal itself does not usually cause any symptoms. It is when inflammation of the nerves occurs at the level of increased pressure that patients begin to experience problems requiring neck pain treatment. Cervical spinal stenosis may cause pain, weakness or numbness in the shoulders, arms and legs; hand clumsiness and gait and balance disturbances can also occur. There are a number of ways that neck pain clinics can treat stenosis without surgery. These include:
Chiropractic Care - Chiropractic care treatments help to manipulate the spine to restore normal spinal movements
Rehabilitative Therapy, including a prescribed exercise program to help stabilize the spine, build endurance and increase flexibility.
Medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce swelling and pain, and analgesics to relieve pain.
Corticosteroid injections can help reduce swelling and treat acute pain that radiates. This pain relief may only be temporary, and patients are usually not advised to get more than 2-3 injections per 6-month period.
Both disc herniations and cerical stenosis can lead to a condition in which the spinal nerve root in the neck is irritated and/or compressed. Nerve irritation may cause sensory and/or motor abnormalities called neurologic deficit. In addition to neck pain, pain, tingling and numbness in an arm or hand are examples of a sensory abnormality. Weakness and reflex loss are examples of a motor abnormality. Cervical radiculopathy may cause symptoms to appear in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands and fingers.
An MRI or myelography and CT scan may follow a physical examination and neurological evaluation. These tests help the spine specialist determine where the radiculopathy is located and if the patient’s symptoms correlate to the image studies. Depending on the cause of the cervical radiculopathy, the spine specialist may first recommend non-surgical treatment. Of course, not all patients are alike and some patients may require surgery.