Neck pain can be pesky, especially if radiculopathy, or nerve pain, in the arm is also involved. It’s important to remember that the tissues of the neck are the same that are in the low back (and everywhere else in the body): muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. An amazing amount of research has been conducted on the neck over the past decade, finding that the vast majority of people walking around have an abnormal finding on an MRI of their neck but have no current pain (Nakashima et al., Spine, 2015). The finding of a disc bulge, disc protrusion, disc degeneration, spondylolisthesis, or any other number of scary sounding medical terms is not a condemnation for a life sentence for neck pain.
Modern research has shown us that what an X-Ray or MRI may find in your neck doesn’t necessarily correlate to your actual symptoms, and has no predictive value in how your symptoms can change over time. It is entirely possible to resolve all of your symptoms without changing what is found on an image. A particularly interesting study by Dr. Richard Herzog, MD found that the most important factor in determining a diagnosis based on an MRI of your spine is actually your zip code (Herzog et al., 2017, Spine). Dr. Herzog had one patient travel to 10 different MRI centers, where the patient received 49 unique diagnoses from 10 different radiologists. It is important to understand that medical imaging is not the gold standard that we once believed it to be, and that your diagnosis, and your subsequent treatment, will differ based on the radiologist who performs your imaging.
There are many treatments we can offer to reduce neck pain & discomfort while improving motion such as:
In addition, as with all of our plans of care, we’re dedicated to not just helping you reduce your pain, but improving your overall quality of life by also addressing lifestyle factors such as nutrition, sleep, and stress. By combining hands-on treatment with exercise and lifestyle modification, our goal is for you to leave physical therapy not only feeling better, but as a stronger, healthier person overall.
Do you want to learn more or get started with treatment?