Causes of Neck Pain
Neck Pain is also a very common musculoskeletal complaint causing significant pain, loss of function and disability. Although not as common as low back pain the overall cost of neck pain in terms of health care costs and loss of work is one of the highest.
Keys to a Healthy Neck
- Maintain a healthy weight within normal BMI
- Proper posture is key- Shoulders back and down with your “head held high”. Every 1 degree the head is held forward adds another 10 lbs of stress on the neck
- Excellent body mechanics – Computers and excessive sitting have contributed to significantly more neck pain because our bodies were never designed to be sitting in that position for an extended period of time. Ensure the middle of your computer screen is at eye level. Bring the mouse and keyboard closer and do not “reach”. Proper posture while on a computer is essential. Stand up desks have been shown to increase productivity and decrease pain/injury.
- Strengthening of the neck and upper back- Physical Therapy, Yoga, Pilates, Etc.
Disc Disorders/Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)
Over time all individuals will develop some extent of Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) due to the loss of fluid in the discs as well as increased fibrous tissue and cartilage. There are many factors that can contribute to the development of DDD including posture, body mechanics, repetitive improper movement, laxity of the spine and genetics. DDD, unfortunately, causes the disc to become weak and allow the jelly-like nucleus pulposus (NP) to leak out. This weakening in the back of the disc allows disc bulges, herniations, extrusions, and sequestered discs. The leaky disc also allows the inside of the disc to “leak” inflammatory molecules to the nerves and joints in the back causing significant pain and discomfort. Until the development of the Discseel® Procedure, all treatments for pain stemming from the disc have been disappointing at best. Disc replacements, lumbar fusions and Discectomies (removal of the disc) unfortunately cause a significant amount of scar tissue and have had marginal success overall at best. The Discseel® procedure has allowed truly minimally invasive regeneration of the patient’s disc.
Degeneration of the disc (DDD) as above causes secondary problems including inflammation and arthritis of the joints in the back, called facet joints. These are small joints similar to other joints in the body such as the knee or hip. These joints have a capsule which contains a thick fluid which is meant to act as a lubricant to prevent the bones from rubbing together. Unfortunately, these are a large source of low back pain as we age. Treatment options have traditionally been steroid injections, nerve blocks, and radiofrequency ablations. Recent data has shown that injecting Stem Cells and PRP into the joint can decrease inflammation and promote cartilage growth inside the joint that acts as padding and prevent bones from rubbing together which causes bone spurs and worsening arthritis. Many times this could have been prevented by maintaining the proper disc height. Another reason why the Discseel® Procedure is so effective is because as the disc height increases, load and stress is taken off of the facet joints, which in turn decreases pain and the amount of arthritis/bone spurs that can develop.
Is a narrowing of the spinal canal where the spinal cord runs from the base of the brain to the sacrum. Foraminal stenosis is where there is decreased space and tightening where the spinal nerves leave the spine and can cause symptoms better known as radicular pain that can cause numbness, tingling and even weakness in the upper extremities. Congenital stenosis (being born with this) is rare and most of the time is from the degeneration process as we age and the spine adapts to injury and the constant pressure of gravity. Most of the time spinal stenosis begins initially after there has been disruption of the disc leading to DDD. This progression causes increased bone growth (bone spurs), arthritis of the facet joints and thickening of the ligaments all of which decrease the amount of space the spinal cord and nerves have. Maintaining greater disc height with the Discseel procedure can alleviate some of the patients’ pain and prevent further degradation of the spine contributing to spinal stenosis.
Muscle Strain/Sprain is typically caused by overusing the spine, repetitive movements, motor vehicle accidents, and trauma. Muscle spasms are usually the bodies “self protect mechanism” after sensing injury or inflammation to prevent further injury to the spine. Myofascial pain syndrome (trigger points) are usually secondary to poor posture, overuse, trauma or stress. Chronic muscle injuries and chronic pain that have not responded well to conservative treatments such as NSAIDS, Physical Therapy, ice and or heat and others have been shown to respond well to regenerative treatments such as Stem Cells and PRP