Neck Pain

  1. Neck Pain

    Neck pain is a common symptom that is defined as pain in the neck region, also known as the cervical region. Most people will experience neck pain at some point in their lives. It can be caused by many conditions ranging from serious to less serious. Serious causes of neck pain may include stroke and infections of the spine and tumors.

    Less serious and more common causes of neck pain include sprain or strain of muscles and/or ligaments (commonly seen following car accidents or injury), disc herniation (slipped disc), cervical degeneration (arthritis), cervical nerve irritation, tight muscles, and postural issues. Due to the many different causes of neck pain, it is very important to have an evaluation by a healthcare professional in a timely manner.

The most common conditions are listed here:

1. Sprain/Strain:

An injury to a muscle and/or tendon is called a “strain” or more commonly referred to as a “pulled back muscle.” An injury to a ligament is called a sprain. These are the most common causes of low back pain and may occur due to trauma, over-activity, lifting heavy objects, faulty posture, and sudden movement.

2. Radiculopathy:

This is also referred to as “radiculitis” or is commonly called a “pinched nerve” in the back. It occurs when the nerves or nerve roots become compressed due to a bone spur, degenerative disc disease and disc herniation, and/or inflammation of tissues in the vicinity.

Sciatica is a term used to describe a specific compression of the large sciatic nerve that runs from the back through the buttock and down the back of the leg to the foot. The nerve can be compressed at the level of the spine as well as the buttock region by tight muscles especially the piriformis muscle.

The disc exists between the spinal bones (vertebrae) and functions as a shock absorber and allows for back mobility. The disc consists of a tough outer layer and an inner jelly-like layer. A disc herniation can occur when there is wear and tear of the tough outer layer of the disc allowing the inner jelly like substance to slip or herniate through the outer layer potentially irritating spinal nerves or the spinal cord.

3. Spondylosis:

Spondylosis is also known as degenerative or osteoarthritis of the spine and can affect any region of the spine. This condition generally occurs due to age and wear and tear of the spine over time and is typically characterized by bony overgrowths and degenerating intervertebral discs (degenerative disc disease).

4. Spinal stenosis:

Spinal stenosis is a term used to describe a narrowing of the spinal canal with a resultant compression of the spinal cord and spinal nerves. This most commonly occurs in the lower lumbar spine, but can involve any level of the spine. Spinal stenosis can have many causes including a congenital narrowing of the spinal canal, but it most often results from a degenerative process that results in herniated discs, bone spurs, and/or thickened ligaments.

5. Inflammatory arthritis:

Several inflammatory arthritis conditions can be associated back pain such as: ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, arthritis related to inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

6. Scoliosis:

Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral or sideways curvature of the spine. It is a very common problem with many causes including degenerative scoliosis, which is the most common form in adults. Idiopathic scoliosis, which is the most common cause of scoliosis in children, has no specific identifiable cause.

7. Compression fracture:

Compression fractures are most often related to osteoporosis or brittle bone disease which is discussed in detail elsewhere, but may also be due to trauma. When the vertebrae or bones of the spine become weak from osteoporosis they can collapse. This is referred to as a compression fracture of the spine.

The symptoms of back pain will vary depending on the cause and may include the following for each of these conditions:

1. Sprain/Strain
  • Muscle cramping and/or spasms
  • Back pain that is worse with certain movements
  • Decreased function and/or range of motion
  • Back pain that may start 24-48 hours after the initial injury
2. Radiculopathy
  • Local back pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Pain, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness that can radiate down one or both legs and occasionally to the feet
3. Spondylosis
  • Majority of the time, no symptoms are present
  • Local back pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Back pain after sitting or standing for extended periods of time
  • Symptoms of radiculopathy may be present
4. Spinal stenosis:
  • Back pain
  • Leg pain and cramping that worsens with walking or standing for prolonged periods and improves with rest and leaning forward
  • Numbness or tingling in the buttocks or legs
  • Weakness in the legs or foot
  • In rare instances loss of bowel or bladder control may also occur which is a sign of a rare but serious medical condition called cauda equina syndrome that requires immediate medical attention
5. Inflammatory arthritis:
  • Local back pain
  • Prolonged stiffness in the back that worsens with rest and improves with activity
6. Scoliosis:
  • Local back pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Physical deformity such as an uneven waist, one shoulder being higher than the other or one shoulder blade sticking out more than the other, and uneven hips
  • In severe cases, it can cause heart and lung problems making it more difficult to breath and harder for the heart to pump
7. Compression fracture:
  • - Local back pain
  • - Loss of height
  • - Poor posture ie “hunchback” shape

At Greater Chicago Specialty Physicians, with both a medical doctor and a chiropractor available, you can be confident that an accurate diagnosis will be made. We collect information about your symptoms, perform a detailed physical exam, and may order appropriate imaging and lab work if necessary to determine the exact cause.

At GCSP, we offer multiple approaches for the management of back pain in our facilities including medical management, Chiropractic care, manual therapy, exercise rehabilitation, acupuncture, clinical massage, cupping, and laser therapy.

Our goal at GCSP is to offer multiple options under one roof so you can find the care you want and need. Many patients take comfort that their alternative care can be done under the supervision of a medical doctor and that they can seek another opinion or treatment option at our facility. By choosing your care at GCSP, we can take a team approach to ensure you are receiving the best options for you.

Let Us Help You “Get Pain Free, Get Moving, and Get Well” by scheduling an appointment today!