While neck pain is less common than lower back pain, millions of people experience neck pain and/or related arm pain at some point in their life.
People suffering from chronic neck pain often think they have a pinched nerve, which can be caused by disk damage, tight muscles, or bony deposits, and is usually accompanied by headaches, dizziness, stiff muscles around the neck, and tingling or numbness.
Effective treatments for a pinched nerve include manual manipulation and specific adjustment of the cervical spine. However, chronic or recurring neck pain may be a symptom of a number of neuromuscular or neurological conditions, including:
- Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Cervical disk degeneration
- Concussion or other injuries from auto accidents, contact sports, falls, etc.
First We Find the Root Cause of the Pain
Our assessment process begins with a physical exam to determine the root cause of the pain. A pinched nerve will present with certain motor and sensory signs that our examination often reveals are not present, but instead, that there is a combination of joint and muscle problems combined with a lack of spinal stabilization.
In these cases, the next step of the evaluation process is to evaluate the patient’s core muscles. The simple act of balancing on one leg can show us how well the patient is able to stabilize their spine.
We also employ a product called CAPS (Comprehensive Assessment of Postural Systems), a patented diagnostic tool that immediately provides quantifiable results to identify undiagnosed balance disorders.
The unique CAPS self-leveling, three-component force platform.
- The CAPS™ combines powerful software applications with exciting new cutting-edge technology: unique, self-leveling, three-component force platforms.
- In less than 60 seconds we can provide an objective measurement of their balance.
- The extraordinary sensitivity of the CAPS allows us to measure otherwise imperceptible, undetectable movements we always make when standing, even though we may appear to be standing absolutely still.
- The CAPS then generates a report that quantifies the person’s balance, provides us with an objective balance score, and warns us when the results are abnormal for the patient’s age.
Upon Further Examination…
Next, we examine the midline of the cerebellum, which is the area of the inner ear that controls the postural muscles that go down each side of the spine, which can be determined by a series of simple tests such as blowing puffs of warm air into the ear canal.
What we often find in patients with neck and lower back problems is that there is an imbalance between the postural muscles, one side being considerably stronger than the other, which cause the spine muscles to spasm on one side and pull the spine out of place.
Spinal x-rays will be taken only as warranted, i.e., if there are signs or indications of trauma, such as a fall, sports injury, etc. We have an on-site x-ray suite.
Carpal Tunnel Pain Originates in the Neck
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, which is often associated with wrist pain from a peripheral nerve entrapment, can actually originate from problems related to the neck and cervical spine rather than from a peripheral nerve entrapment.
We need to differentiate where the nerve entrapment is occurring as the pathways out of the brain control different motor compartments. Basically, the nerve pathways for the shoulder, fingers, biceps, and triceps are all inter-related.
Although they may appear to be two separate issues, we know that both neck pain and carpal tunnel pain are controlled by the same portion of the brain, so the wrist pain is the end product of a problem in the cerebellum.
Shoulder Pain (Rotator Cuff) Originates in the Neck
The primary difference between neurology-based therapy and physical therapy (PT) is that we look at and treat the brain pathways to reduce symptoms, PT looks at the end result.
While you can treat a rotator cuff injury, for example, with traditional physical therapy techniques, which may help because they do stimulate the cerebellum, the patient would probably be better off, if it’s really a brain-based problem, to treat the cerebellum than to waste time treating just the shoulder.
A lot of people go through a lot of rehab and never get their extremity problem taken care of because they never address the actual cause of the problem.
So, instead of treating the shoulder pain with a patch or cream, we should be treating the cerebellum through cerebral rehab, which is called Vestibular Rehabilitative Therapy.
This process involves eye exercises, head and neck exercises geared at stimulating the left vestibular ocular reflex.
Developing a Program That’s Right for You
Information is readily available on the way to stop neck pain. The challenge is to tailor it to the particular patient.
For more information about Chiropractic Neurology Center and the conditions we treat, or to schedule an appointment for consultation, contact us.