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Back Pain

Back Pain

Back pain is a very common problem and most people will experience it during their lifetime. The pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp pain that can make it hard to move. The majority of acute back pain, typically from a strain, will resolve in a few days to a few weeks.

There are many different causes of back pain, including some with serious implications which require urgent attention, especially if associated with other symptoms such as fever or pain in other areas. For cases of back pain that persists for more than a few weeks, it is important to have a healthcare professional evaluate it further.

The most common conditions are listed here:

1. Cervical or Neck Sprain/Strain and Muscle Spasm:

Injury to the muscles, ligaments and/or tendons located in the neck is called a cervical sprain or strain which is sometimes also commonly referred to as “pulled neck muscles” or as “having a kink in the neck.” Sprain/strain is the most common cause of neck pain. It occurs due to trauma, over-activity, lifting, poor posture, sudden movement, or overuse. Often the neck muscles may spasm as well causing decreased range of motion and pain.

2. Cervical Radiculopathy:

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

The cervical disc exists between the spinal bones in the neck. The function of the disc is to act as a shock absorber and cushion the individual spinal bones (vertebrae) and allow for neck mobility. The disc consists of a tough outer layer and an inner jelly like layer. A cervical disc herniation can occur when there is wear and tear of the tough outer layer allowing the inner jelly like substance to slip or herniate through the outer layer potentially irritating spinal nerves or the spinal cord.

3. Cervical spondylosis:

Cervical spondylosis (otherwise known and degenerative osteoarthritis or “wear and tear” arthritis of the cervical spine) is very common and worsens with age. It is the result of wear and tear on the bones, discs and ligaments of the neck. Cervical spondylosis may result in cervical radiculopathy/radiculitis (described above), or myelopathy (a compression of the cervical spinal cord).

4. Inflammatory arthritis

Examples of inflammatory neck pain include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Polymyalgia Rheumatica

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

1. Cervical or Neck Sprain/Strain:
  • Neck pain, cramping and/or spasms that may or may not radiate to the shoulders
  • Neck pain that is worse with certain movements
  • Neck pain that may start 24-48 hours after the initial injury
  • Warmth and redness in the joint area
  • Limited movement of the affected joint(s)
2. Cervical Radiculopathy:
  • Neck pain that may be associated with a muscle spasm and radiate down one or both arms
  • Numbness and/or tingling (the feeling of “pins and needles”) in the hands or fingers
  • Weakness of the arm, shoulder, or hand
3. Cervical spondylosis:
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Cracking and popping sounds with movement of the neck
  • Headache
  • Decreased range of motion of the neck
  • Pain in shoulder or arms

Symptoms of cervical spondylosis with myelopathy may include:

  • Numbness, tingling, and/or weakness in your arms, hands, legs, or feet
  • Decreased range of motion of the neck
  • Difficulty walking or balancing
  • Spasms in muscles
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
4. Inflammatory arthritis:
  • Constant deep aching pain
  • Prolonged morning stiffness
  • Stiffness and pain that improves with activity and worsens with rest
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 neck 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.