The most common causes of neck pain and headaches that we see in our office are:
Muscle Adhesion: The most common cause of neck pain, muscle adhesion arises as an unfortunate side effect of our modern lifestyles. The hours we spend sitting at our desks and looking at our cell phones builds adhesion in the suboccipitals – a group of six tiny muscles at the base of the skull. Adhesion acts like glue within these overused muscles, making them weaker and less flexible while restricting your movement and causing you considerable pain. Although it is extremely widespread, adhesion is often misdiagnosed. Failing to recognize the condition, physicians commonly prescribe treatments such as physical adjustments, taping, stretching, and exercise. While these measures may help in the short term, they do nothing to resolve the original issue. However, adhesion is entirely reversible when it is identified and treated by a skilled medical provider. When muscle adhesion is addressed, the suboccipitals can once again support the neck properly, relieving stress in the lower neck/upper back and eliminating both sharp pains and throbbing headaches.
Cervical Disc Injury: Intervertebral discs are meant to perform as natural shock absorbers to cushion spinal impact. However, just like the shock absorbers on your car, these discs commonly suffer from wear and tear. Although acute cervical disc injuries can occur as the result of traumatic accidents such as sports impacts or automobile collisions, poor posture and the prolonged stress of holding singular and/or unnatural positions are by far the most common cause of disc injuries in the neck. This will often manifest in patients who have desk jobs. People who spend a lot of time staring down at digital devices or hunched over various tabletop projects are also at a particularly high risk of cervical disc injury. In many cases, untreated injured cervical discs will herniate, a process that occurs when the inner core of a disc leaks out to press upon or pinch a cervical nerve, causing pain to radiate along the nerve pathway up the neck and/or down the arm. Cervical disc injuries can also cause extreme headaches.
Muscle Spasms: Involuntary contractions that can cause muscles to become hard, tight, and painful, spasms can occur in virtually any body part. Neck spasms, however, can be particularly problematic. In short, if you are experiencing a spasm in your neck, there is always an underlying cause. And identifying that cause is absolutely critical to your overall neck health. Many people dismiss neck spasms, insisting that they just slept “wrong.” Dismissing these spasms is even easier when the problem seems to come and go. However, neck spasms are always a sign of a more serious problem that is just waiting to surface. Common causes of this condition include general injury, overuse, and poor posture. It can also arise from daily activities such as carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder and tilting your head to talk on the telephone. No matter what the cause, people who are experiencing neck muscle spasms should seek medial treatment as soon as possible.
Osteoarthritis: The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs as the protective joint cartilage wears down over time. Although it is widely regarded as a natural part of the aging process, it is often aggravated by other conditions. For example, as muscle adhesion develops from overuse, it can stress cartilage as joints fail to support loads properly. A degenerative bone-building condition, osteoarthritis worsens when patients experience a limited range of motion. The halted motion of a joint causes an uneven placement of forces within it, and the body responds by building up the bone on the part of the joint that is loaded. This leads directly to cartilage degeneration and chronic joint pain. Restoring range of motion can significantly slow down the progression of osteoarthritis. Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, tenderness, stiffness, loss of flexibility, and a grating sensation, which is often the result of bone spurs.