Many people suffer from neck pain – in fact, about 80 percent of us will experience neck pain at some point in our lives. Sometimes neck pain is mild and temporary, but in other cases, it can become chronic and seriously impact your life.
Neck pain is the fourth most common cause of disability in the US, and more than 30 percent of people are affected by it at any given time.
When to Seek Grayson Neck Pain Treatment
It’s generally advisable to seek consultation and treatment as soon as you feel symptoms. At Optimum Health Rehab in Grayson, we always start with a thorough history, examination, and imaging, such as an MRI or X-rays, so that we can properly diagnose your neck pain.
In many cases, we find that patients have struggled to get help for their symptoms because neck pain can be challenging to diagnose. Fortunately, a neck pain specialist can find the root cause of your problems and recommend a treatment plan customized for you.
Here are some common causes of neck pain:
Seven vertebrae are located in the neck, also known as cervical vertebrae. These small bones move with you as you do everyday activities like nodding or turning your head.
Because they’re meant to be flexible, vertebrae sometimes move out of alignment, which can cause neck pain.
In some cases, this misalignment causes tension or inflammation in nearby muscles and tendons, leading to pain. In other situations, these misaligned bones put pressure on a nerve, which can also be very painful.
If your neck pain is due to misaligned vertebrae, an experienced chiropractor can adjust your spine to correct the problem in a process called spinal manipulation. These adjustments are made quickly, and you shouldn’t feel any pain or discomfort.
You may need to come back occasionally for another adjustment if your vertebrae are prone to becoming misaligned again. Additionally, we may prescribe physical therapy to help you improve your posture or learn exercises that strengthen the muscles and tendons in the spine.
Massage therapy is also helpful in relaxing tight muscles, and some patients benefit from electrical stimulation (E-Stim) therapies.
These treatments can help reduce the risk of another misalignment recurring and treat any residual pain from nerve, muscle, and soft tissue involvement.
Soft Tissue Pain
Sometimes neck pain originates in the soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Inflammation in the soft tissues can be caused by stress, injury, poor posture, aging, and other issues.
Doctors often have few treatment options for soft tissue pain other than strong pain medication (which may cause unpleasant side effects) and a recommendation to rest for a few days.
If this doesn’t work, a chiropractor at Optimum Health Rehab can evaluate your pain and suggest other options, including massage therapy, regenerative medicine, E-Stim, and other treatments.
Pinched or Entrapped Nerve Pain
Neck pain can have many different causes, but if you also have numbness, tingling, a burning sensation, or a feeling of pins and needles in the neck, these could be signs of a nerve problem. In some cases, these symptoms may also radiate into the shoulder or arm.
There are many nerves in the neck, and pressure from nearby bones, muscles, or ligaments can damage these nerves.
Sometimes the nerve is “entrapped” by a bulging disc or misaligned vertebrae. In other situations, it might be impacted by soft tissue inflammation or scarring after an injury.
If you have symptoms of nerve pain, it’s essential to see a chiropractor or pain specialist right away. Allowing the pain to go untreated can lead to permanent nerve damage, which is more challenging to treat.
Once we diagnose the problem, we may be able to address it with spinal manipulation, regenerative medicine, E-Stim, or other treatments.
Neck Pain After Car Accidents
Experiencing neck pain after a car accident is very common, but the onset of symptoms can vary from one person to another. Some have pain right away, while others notice their neck is sore a few hours or even days after the accident.
Many people believe their symptoms are mild and will go away on their own, and while this is sometimes true, it’s still important to seek medical care for post-car accident neck pain. There are several reasons for this recommendation:
- You need to ensure your neck pain is not a sign of a severe injury. If you have neck pain immediately after a car accident, the paramedics will usually put you in a C-spine collar and strap you to the gurney for transport to the hospital. The reason is that it’s possible you may have a small fracture that, if left untreated, could cause serious consequences, including permanent paralysis. Although these complications are rare, it’s crucial that you get an X-ray to be sure nothing is broken before continuing with your normal activities.
- Your injuries and the results of any tests will be recorded. If you need future medical treatment, this will give your next healthcare provider a place to start.
- In many cases, the longer you have neck pain, the more difficult it is to treat. Getting a diagnosis and treatment plan right away often means you spend less time in pain and may need fewer treatments.
Frequently patients go to the emergency room after a car accident for neck pain or other injuries. This is a good way to ensure you don’t have any broken bones or other serious issues that demand immediate treatment.
However, many emergency room doctors aren’t trained to treat neck pain that isn’t caused by a fracture or other easily-diagnosed issues. Generally, they will do an X-ray or CT scan.
If they don’t see anything broken, they will diagnose “whiplash” or a “soft tissue injury” and discharge you with instructions to rest, put ice on your neck, and take over-the-counter painkillers.
This isn’t bad advice.
For some patients with mild injuries, it’s effective – they rest, and their neck feels better in a few days. But many patients continue to have pain well after a whiplash injury is expected to heal.
In fact, one study found that more than half of people with a history of motor vehicle accidents reported experiencing neck pain even years later.
Why are chronic or recurrent neck pain and disability so common after car accidents? Here are some of the potential causes:
- Spinal misalignment. Emergency room doctors look for fractures on an X-ray. That’s good because a fracture in your neck can be a serious problem. But misaligned vertebrae are more subtle and challenging to diagnose from an X-ray, and ER doctors aren’t usually trained in chiropractic care. If they don’t see a fracture, they tend to assume the problem is in the soft tissue, which is only sometimes true.
- A more serious soft tissue injury. Car accidents can be very violent and generally involve both cars stopping or slowing suddenly. While a seatbelt holds most of your body in place, it won’t prevent your head from snapping forward and back, putting strain on the neck muscles. This can cause tears or inflammation in the muscle; if these injuries don’t heal properly, you could continue to have pain.
- Nerve pain or entrapment. The sharp jerking motion of the head can also put pressure on nerves in the neck, especially if you also suffer misaligned vertebrae or a disc problem.
- Posture and other secondary issues. Sometimes after a car accident, pain causes people to change how they move or use their necks. This is natural, but if the pain continues for some time, you could experience weakened muscles or develop a habit of poor posture or adapted movements. In turn, this causes more pain and sometimes other symptoms.
If your neck pain doesn’t resolve within a few weeks of your accident, or if it gets worse after a few days instead of better, please get a copy of your medical records from the hospital and schedule an appointment with an experienced chiropractor.
We’ll review your records, run additional tests if needed, and create a customized treatment plan for your diagnosis.
What if You Didn’t Go to the Emergency Room After Your Car Accident?
This isn’t unusual. Frequently people feel fine right after an accident due to the adrenaline rush or the fact that the tissues in their neck haven’t become swollen yet.
If you start to feel neck pain hours or days later, make an appointment with a chiropractor right away. We can do any imaging you need and will properly diagnose and treat your pain.
How to Get Treatment for Neck Pain in Grayson
Please contact Optimum Health Rehab to set up a consultation. We’ll take your pain seriously and work to diagnose the problem.
We’ll create a personalized treatment plan and monitor your progress, making adjustments to your care as needed.
Our professional staff members are always available to answer any questions you have about insurance coverage or scheduling, so please call (678)985-7286 today to learn how we can help.