What is neck pain?  What causes neck pain?

Patients that come to The North Wales Spine Clinic from Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey present with many different forms of neck pain. There are numerous structures in the neck that can cause neck pain and therefore a great deal of labels for neck pain exist such as degenerative disc disease, whiplash, a herniated disc or a pinched nerve in the neck. Another term for neck pain is cervical pain.

Other neck pain symptoms?

Neck pain is commonly associated with a dull aching pain in the neck and arms. Sometimes neck pain is worsened with movement of the neck. Other symptoms associated with some forms of neck pain include numbness, tingling, tenderness, sharp shooting pain, fullness, difficulty swallowing, pulsations, swishing sounds in the head, dizziness or light-headedness, and gland swelling.

What are the structures of the neck that could be involved with neck pain?

There are seven vertebrae that are the bony building blocks of the spine in the neck (the cervical vertebrae) that surround the spinal cord and canal. Between these vertebrae are discs, and nearby pass the nerves of the neck. Within the neck, structures include the neck muscles, arteries, veins, lymph glands, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, oesophagus, larynx, and trachea. Diseases or conditions that affect any of these tissues of the neck can lead to neck pain.

How is neck pain diagnosed?

In diagnosing the cause of neck pain, it is important to review the history of the symptoms of neck pain. In reviewing the history, we need to note the location, intensity, duration, and radiation of the neck pain. Any past injury to the neck is noted. Positions that Aggravating and/or relieve the neck pain are also recorded. The neck is examined at rest and in motion. Tenderness is detected during palpation of the neck. An examination of the nervous system is performed to determine whether or not there are any trapped nerves in your neck.

Further testing of undiagnosed neck pain can include x-ray evaluation, CAT scan, bone scan, MRI scan, myelogram, and electrical tests such as electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity test (NCV).

Case Study:

Recently at The North Wales Spine Clinic a patient presented from the Conwy region with neck pain.  She descried the neck pain as 8/10 on the neck pain scale. She reported the onset of neck pain when playing Golf in Gwynedd a few days previous. Some time ago she has suffered a whiplash injury in Conwy, which cause severe neck pain for a short period. An x-ray was taken of her neck, which showed degenerative disc disease, and the physical exam highlighted the possibility of a trapped nerve in the neck.  We began care with conservative therapy including Chiropractic adjustments, Physiotherapy and Osteopathy techniques.  We also used Acupuncture and she reported a reduction in neck pain from the original 8/10 to 2/10.  We then gave her a toolbox of neck pain exercises taught in our rehabilitation suite at The North Wales Spine Clinic. On follow up she reported no neck pain and is happily living her life in Conwy.

How is neck pain treated?

The treatment of neck pain depends on its precise cause. Our patients with neck pain that come from Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey to The North Wales Spine Clinic are treated with a variety of options such as Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Massage, Neuro-muscular and Core Stabilisation, OPT (Optimum Performance Training) exercise programmes, Osteopathy and Physiotherapy techniques. Often pillows help with neck pain see out article on pillows at Can Pillows help with Neck Pain?