Many individuals experience neck pain in some way or form. It’s a common reason why people visit our Vancouver chiropractic office. The cause of this pain can be from a sports injury, post desk posture, or seemingly unprompted. Whichever the reason may be for you, the next section may help you understand the nature of your neck pain.
Common neck pain related pains:
● Posture Related Neck Pains
● Car Accidents and Sports Injurie
● Neck Disc Pain and Radiculopathy
● Upper Crossed Syndrome
● TMJ Dysfunction
How We Take Care of Your Neck Pain
With an integrated team of Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, Registered Massage Therapists, Naturopaths, Holistic Nutritionists, and Kinesiologists, we have you covered for your neck-related problems.
Our practitioners are never in a rush, and we take the time to get to know you and your conditions.
Based on the cause of your pain, we will recommend different treatments from:
● Chiropractic adjustments
● Soft tissue work
● Deep tissue massage
● Stress management techniques
● Dietary changes
● Ergonomic changes
● And many more to best help you find a solution to your neck pain.
If your condition does require further testing or treatment, we can refer you to one of the trusted specialists that we have in our network.
What Can Affect the Neck?
Nearly everyone experiences this type of pain at least once in their life. The similarity between all headaches is the report of pain. Different types of headaches can cause pain in other areas of the head and have very unique features.
Here are some different types of headaches:
● Tension Headaches
● Migraine Headaches
● Neck (cervicogenic) Headaches
● Sinus Headaches
● Cluster Headaches
● Caffeine Headaches
● TMJ (Jaw) related Headaches
Headaches can originate from the neck (cervicogenic headaches). Tight shoulder and neck muscles can lead to trigger points that radiate and refer pain into the head, also known as a tension headache. Conversely, when muscles are weak and lengthened, they struggle to function properly and further contribute to discomfort.
● Poor Posture
● Diet and Exercise Habits
● Hormonal Imbalances
● TMJ (Jaw) related
● Car Accidents
Since there are so many different types and causes of headaches, it is vital to have a thorough history and proper assessment to treat the cause of them. An assessment of your movements, postures, and lifestyle habits can be an effective way of uncovering your causes of headache.
For example, addressing your desk set up and ensuring that your monitor and desk are at the appropriate height can make a huge difference for headaches.
The most common symptoms of headaches include dull aches or stiffness in the shoulders, tension or pressure in the head, migraines, and sensitivity to light and sound. Finding what needs to stretch and strengthen can often be a simple solution to help alleviate symptoms.
Treatment such as soft tissue work, chiropractic adjustments, postural analysis and corrections, dietary changes, and ergonomic adjustments can be simple and effective ways of managing your headaches.
Posture related neck pain
Whenever we hear someone talk about posture, we immediately correct ours because inherently, we all believe that we can always be better in this category. As many may have already guessed, poor neck and upper back postures can often lead to upper back and neck pain. Postures can influence our neck because of an overly forward and rounded posture is an imbalance position for our body to be in.
If you look at your head, it is roughly ten pounds and the size of a bowling ball, and it is balancing on our neck, which is like a stick in comparison. So our body is consistently looking to find a balancing point for this bowling ball with gravity pulling it down to the ground. As a result, if our head is forward for long periods of time, our muscles actually adapt to make these positions take less effort by creating tightness.
Causes of posture-related neck pain:
● Computer/desk work
● Driving for long hours
As a result of repeated exposures to posture-related neck pain causes, certain muscles become overactive and tight, while others are underutilized and weakened.
This imbalance in muscle tone and strength can lead to neck pain and headaches based on the pain patterns these muscles can create, known as referral patterns.
All of the tasks listed above tend to round our shoulders forward and draw the chin forward into a slouched position which is commonly why the neck becomes stressed.
Many who are now working from home or in the office setting suffer from posture-related neck pain.
Frequently, the increased amounts of sitting coupled with a lack of physical activity compound the effects of sitting. The best way to prevent posture-related neck pain is to get moving!
A change in position every hour can make a huge difference in how much stress your tissues experience. Something simple like getting up to grab some water, going to the washroom, stretching, going for a walk, or just doing ten air squats can break up all that tight tissue developed in the last hour.
The treatment to help posture-related neck pain often comes from identifying what the problem actually is. Something as simple as creating a more suitable ergonomic desk positioning, some tips and tricks to get you out of your seat, some stretches to do to break up your sitting, and some breathing and posture-based exercises can often make a world of difference in this condition.
On your visit, you will learn to be more aware of the harmful positions that create your problems, but also, our practitioners are trained to work on soft tissue that can relax your tight muscles and increase motion and decrease pain. The strategies may include chiropractic adjustments or mobilizations, deep tissue massage, IMS, take-home exercises, and if you’re lucky, all of them together to maximize your recovery!
Car Accidents (Motor Vehicle Accidents) and Sports-Related Injuries
Neck pain is a common thing that can occur following a car accident. Whiplash can occur as a result of the rapid back and forth movement of the neck upon impact. Patients may experience a number of symptoms such as neck pain/stiffness, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and others. Whiplash-related neck pain occurs due to any activity/incident that may cause a sudden jerking movement of the neck.
The main physical causes of these conditions are:
● Car accidents
● Contact Sports Injuries
● Ski Falls
● Slip and Falls
Oftentimes, many of these injuries are not avoidable, especially car accidents and whiplash injuries. Since there is very little that can be done to prevent these conditions, the next best step is to get treatment. ICBC offers coverage for car accidents regardless of whether you caused the accident or a victim in the accident. We currently offer direct billing options for ICBC, and our rates are fully covered for Registered Massage Therapy, Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, and Active Rehab.
That means that we can help you with your entire car accident case from start to finish! We eliminate your “headache” of traveling around town from appointment to appointment. The pain of the car accident is already stressful enough. Let us help you take a load off your shoulders.
Neck Disc Pain and Radiculopathy
The discs in the neck are cushions found between the bones of the neck, known as vertebra. The disc, also known as the intervertebral discs, serves as a shock absorber to decrease forces applied on the neck and allow for proper movement.
Intervertebral discs are built like a jelly donut. The outer crust known as the annulus fibrosis is a tough, connective tissue and surrounds the disc’s inner jelly portion known as the nucleus pulposus.
The outer portion of the annulus fibrosis (crust) is the only portion with nerve fibers containing pain receptors in it, and if any damage occurs in this area, your body will start to react and signal your brain that something is wrong.
Often, the body’s response is to bring inflammation to the injury site to heal it up, but unfortunately, that inflammation causes swelling and can lead to compression onto some of the nerves that go down your arm. This is known as radiculopathy.
Cervical radiculopathy, or neck-related nerve pain, is usually caused by the compression of the nerve as it exits out of the neck on its way down to the arm. Similar to someone stepping onto a water hose and the decrease in water flowing out the end. In both cases, the compression leads to pressure building up, and it causes problems downstream.
For older populations, cervical radiculopathy can also be caused by degenerative changes or extra bone growth where the nerve is exiting the neck on its way down to the arm. As a result, this extra bone growth if providing a similar compression on the nerve.
Causes of Neck Disc Pain and Cervical Radiculopathy:
● Trauma - car accidents, falls, sports injuries
● Overuse and repetitive stress - spending hours and days in the same position
● Postural - Poor mechanics leading to increased stress on vulnerable areas of the disc
● Degenerative Disc Disease - aging changes that lead to disc wear and tear
● Sudden unguarded movements - lifting heavy objects and rapid movements without control
Symptoms of Cervical Discogenic Pain and Radiculopathy
Generally, disc-related pain is hard to separate from just general neck pain. Still, the common feature is that it often accompanies anything that compresses the neck more often in a forward flexed motion or if someone is lifting.
However, usually, most individuals seek care because they have a herniated (or bulging) disc which usually shows up as a burning, tingling, numbness down the arm or around the shoulder blade due to the pressure on the nerve in the neck. Oftentimes, the report of arm pain is more severe than the pain in the neck.
Treatment of Cervical Discogenic Pain and Radiculopathy
Conservative treatment for disc-related injuries has been shown to be the first approach to manage these conditions. The initial treatment will focus on controlling pain and inflammation and education of what a disc injury is. Once the pain and inflammation have subsided, the approach restores range of motion and allows proper healing to prevent chronic pain and disability.
The treatment will often consist of soft tissue therapy, pain-free range of motion exercises, disc-specific rehab exercises, and joint mobilization as needed. Later portions of rehabilitation will include stabilization exercises, posture retraining, home exercises for strengthening, and tools to decrease future injury change.
Upper Crossed Syndrome
Upper Crossed Syndrome is a common description of muscle imbalances found in the upper body.
This occurs when the neck muscles and the muscles of your middle back become weak while your chest muscles and the muscles of your upper back and base of the skull become tight.
This muscle imbalance creates a very common pattern that we see with many people and can cause headaches, especially if you sit a lot during the day. Some of the physical causes for this condition are:
● Desk job
● Long hours driving
● Poor Posture
● Too much sitting
Many who suffer from this condition, often sit at their desk for most of the day. Frequently, an accompanying issue is having a sedentary lifestyle with very little physical activity. Sitting has been stated in recent years to be the new smoking. This is because the health complications due to the increase in sitting have led to increases in heart-related problems, cancers, mental health challenges, and diabetes!
The best way to address this problem is to prevent it from even starting. If possible, decrease sitting for long periods and take a work break once each hour (if possible). A five-minute walk as a break each hour can actually do more for your body in preventing upper cross syndrome than going to the gym for two hours a day! If this problem has already started, our team can help teach you the proper postures and changes in your life to prevent this problem in the future.
You will learn to be more aware of the harmful positions that create your problems, but also, our practitioners are trained to work on soft tissue that can relax your tight muscles and increase motion and decrease pain.
Often, you will also receive some take-home strategies that you can add to your routine to reverse the damages created and prevent more issues in the future!
TMJ (Jaw) Pain
Headaches can come from the jaw because the jaw, also known as the mandible, connects to your skull. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a very unique joint in our body because it is built like a hinge but rolling on a ball on both sides. The TMJ is made up of two joints, eight direct muscles, and two cartilage discs (similar to the ones in your neck). There are two major movements with the jaw that are unique, which are rotation and gliding. Sounds complex, right?
Unfortunately, since these joints are so unique, they become a frequent source of problems, especially since we use them so often! Often, the TMJ can become a bit dislodged and have some improper movement, leading to tightness, pain, and sometimes even headaches. The TMJ challenge is that a balance of movement is required for every opening and closing, and even if one of the eight muscles is too tight, our jaw starts moving weirdly.
The main physical causes of TMJ pain are:
● Trauma (Car accident, sports injury, fight, etc.)
● Overuse due to chewing only on one side or habitual gum chewing
● Grinding and stress
● Keeping the mouth open for prolonged periods (like at the dentist)
● Improper bite
The best way to prevent TMJ pain is to chew food evenly on both sides, reduce gum chewing and cutting large foods into smaller bites. Another way to prevent injuries to the TMJ is to wear proper mouthguards while playing sports and wearing prescribed mouth guards while sleeping.
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Neck Pain Relief Techniques
Some techniques that may help include:
● Soft tissue manipulation
● Joint mobilization
● Trigger point release
● Trigger point dry needling/Intramuscular stimulation (IMS)
● Therapeutic modalities
● Rehabilitative exercises (stretches, strengthening/stabilization exercises, breathing exercises etc.)
What To Expect During Your First Visit
Meeting with a practitioner for the first time can be a little intimidating. We want you to be as comfortable as possible.
We want to understand what is troubling you so we can treat you effectively. Know that whatever you disclose will be held with the utmost confidentiality.
Upon meeting your practitioner, they will:
● Go through a brief interview process to understand you and your condition
● Share their thoughts and what we can do about your condition
● Provide you with homecare, either an exercise or modification, to complement the treatment
Baseline has taken steps to ensure that all of us are as safe from Covid as possible. We have a pre-screening questionnaire, and we ensure that everyone wears their protective equipment. In between patients, we take the time to properly clean all surfaces that may have been used so that the next patient is safe.
You don’t have to live with neck painTo summarize, neck pain is common but manageable. Despite various reasons why someone can have neck ache and pain, finding the right modalities and practitioners can help you address the underlying problem and decrease symptoms.
If you resonate with any of these points, give Baseline a call or go online and book an appointment with one of our practitioners.
“I went to see Dr. Vlad at Baseline for a chronic issue with my neck and back that I had been suffering through flare-ups for many years. I tried Massage and physio before but The issue always remained. After laying on the floor for 3 days in the latest flare up, I found Baseline online and chose them for their longer assessments and appointments. Dr. Vlad was incredibly thorough in the initial appointment and systematically identified the cause of my pain. He adjusted my neck and shoulders and gave me exercises to perform in between appointments. Within a couple of days after the initial appointment, I had a massive decrease in pain and a huge increase in mobility. One of the best parts of my experience at baseline with Dr. Vlad was the level of detail and explanation of my diagnosis, as well as the clearly explained reasoning for the process steps I was taking to improve my condition. I highly recommend Dr. Vlad if you have any chiropractic issues.”
“I have been to Dr. Au a couple of times for some headaches and neck pains. My experience has been very positive as Dr. Au is very compassionate towards seeing his clients get better. He is very descriptive in what he will do in his treatments and I found the experience very pleasant as a new client. Although I do not see him often, I always feel better after each session. I highly recommend Dr. Au as he is an awesome chiropractor!”
“I went to see Dr. Jenine several times for acute on chronic neck pain. Dr. Jenine's attitude and approach to her practice are bar none. Her positive energy and holistic approach to emotional and physical well being make seeing her such a positive experience. She always took the time to make me feel heard, understood, and to come up with the best treatment plan for my personal needs. Would highly recommend!”
“Saw Einer and another went to see Lorissa for RMT treatments. Both are young, caring, and enthusiastic about their role in maintaining my wellbeing. Einer is like a big friendly giant in the room. He will bring in his experience from playing ultimate to understand which muscles need a bit more work. Lorissa will give you a great relaxing massage while also addressing those tight head neck shoulders muscles.”
“I have been working with Jamie Sonego for many years. She has fixed my back, my neck, and my ankle. I have consistently been impressed by her varied and super effective treatments. I recommend her to anyone!”
“I have been seeing Dr. Au since one of my co-workers recommended me to him last year. I have had back and neck pain on and off for the last 15 years, and I cannot recommend him enough! I have seen my fair share of chiropractors and I will never go to see anyone else now. He is very knowledgeable and explains everything in detail so you understand. He is honest, and by that I mean he doesn't try to get extra appointments (like so many other chiropractors do). It is such a lovely experience going to Baseline. Anytime I am in pain, I make an appointment and Dr. Au always seems to figure out the root of it. He goes above and beyond by emailing tips for working at home (during COVID I started working from home which was causing me some issues) and providing his clients information to ensure they have all the tools and knowledge to help themselves outside of appointments.”