NECK & UPPER BACK PAIN
Neck pain is very common. It is estimated that by middle age, between 30% to 50% of people will have an episode of neck pain within a one year period.
If you suffer from neck and /or upper back pain, there is no reason why you have to stay in pain, speak to us today and book consultation.
On this page you will find information on the condition along with symptoms and potential diagnosis pathways to manage and treat the condition from an anatomical point of view.
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A common condition that physios treat is neck pain.
Neck pain is a common reason people visit their Physiotherapist. Neck pain typically starts from a single injury, or can develop over time from the stress and strain of daily activities and sustained postures. Knowing how your neck normally works and why you feel pain are important in helping you care for your neck problem. Patients are often less anxious and more satisfied with their care when they have the information they need to make the best decisions about their condition.
This guide will help you understand:
How the problem develops
How Physio's diagnose the condition
What treatment options are available
Symptoms from neck problems vary. They depend on your condition and which neck structures are affected. Some of the more common symptoms of neck problems are:
Pain spreading into the upper back or down the arm
Neck stiffness and reduced range of motion
Muscle weakness in the shoulder, arm, or hand
Sensory changes (numbness, prickling, or tingling) in the forearm, hand, or fingers
The diagnosis of neck problems begins with a thorough history of your condition. When you visit Physio Med our Physiotherapist will ask you questions to find out when you first started having problems, what makes your symptoms worse or better, and how the symptoms affect your daily activity. Your answers will help guide our physical examination.
Your Physiotherapist at Physio Med will then examine the muscles and joints of your neck to see how your neck is aligned, how it moves, and exactly where it hurts.
Our Physiotherapist may also do some simple tests to check the function of the nerves. These tests measure your arm and hand strength, check your reflexes, and help determine whether you have numbness in your arms, hands, or fingers.
The information from your medical history and physical examination will help us decide which tests to run. The tests give different types of information.
Some patients may be referred to a Doctor for further diagnosis. Once your diagnostic examination is complete, the Physiotherapists at Physio Med have treatment options that will help speed your recovery, so that you can more quickly return to your active lifestyle.
Facet Joint Injection: When the problem is thought to be in the facet joints, an injection into one or more facet joints can help determine which joints are causing the problem and ease the pain as well. The fluoroscope is used to guide a needle directly into the facet joint. The facet joint is then filled with medication mixture. If the injection immediately eases the pain, it helps confirm that the facet joint is a source of pain. The steroid medication will reduce the inflammation in the joint over a period of days and may reduce or eliminate your neck pain.
Trigger Point Injections: Injections of anaesthetic medications mixed with a cortisone medication are sometimes given in the muscles, ligaments, or other soft tissues near the spine. These injections are called trigger point injections. These injections can help relieve neck pain and ease muscle spasm and tender points in the neck muscles
Whenever possible, it is preferable to use treatments other than surgery. The first goal of these nonsurgical treatments is to ease your pain and other symptoms.
Nonsurgical treatments ease the symptoms in your neck and address the problem directly to resolve the underlying issue/s. At Physio Med, if a Physiotherapy program is appropriate one will be prescribed; and although each patient's recovery time varies, our treatments are designed to help ease pain and to improve mobility, strength, posture, and function.
Your Physiotherapist in Leeds may also advise you to intermittently place a hot or cold pack on your neck, or you may be shown how to do a contrast treatment. Contrast treatments involve switching between a cold pack and a hot pack.
At Physio Med, we will work with you to improve your neck movement and strength. We will also encourage healthy body alignment and posture. These steps are designed to slow the degeneration process and enable you to get back to your normal activities.
When your Physiotherapy programme is nearly completed, we may provide you with exercises to do at home on a regular basis to help control your symptoms and protect your neck in the years ahead.
Rehabilitation after surgery is much more complex. Some patients leave the hospital shortly after surgery, but some surgeries require patients to stay in the hospital for a few days.
A Physiotherapist will often visit you in your hospital room soon after surgery. These initial in-hospital treatment sessions help our patients learn to move and do routine activities without putting extra strain on the neck.
Many surgical patients need Physiotherapy outside of the hospital as well. Although the time required for rehabilitation varies for each patient. Our Physiotherapy treatments are designed to calm pain and muscle spasm, teach patients to move safely, and help patients develop strength and mobility.
As our Physiotherapy sessions come to an end, your Physio Med Physiotherapist may help you get back to work. We can do a work assessment to ensure you can do your job safely. Some patients may need to modify their work or other activities to avoid future problems.
At Physio Med, our goal is to help you keep your pain under control, improve your range of motion, and maximise strength and control in your neck. When your recovery is well under way, regular visits to our clinic will end. We will continue to be a resource, but you will be in charge of doing your exercises as part of an ongoing home programme.
OTHER TESTS AND TREATMENTS
An electromyogram (EMG) is a special test used to determine if there are problems with any of the nerves going to the upper limbs. EMGs are usually done to determine whether the nerve roots have been pinched by a herniated disc. During the test, small needles are placed into certain muscles that are supplied by each nerve root. If there has been a change in the function of the nerve, the muscle will send off different types of electrical signals. The EMG test reads these signals and can help determine which nerve root is involved.
Not all causes of neck pain are from degenerative conditions. Doctors use blood tests to identify other conditions, such as arthritis or infection. Other tests may be needed to rule out problems that do not involve the spine.
Many different types of medications are typically prescribed to help gain control of the symptoms of neck pain. There is no medication that will cure neck pain. Your Doctor may prescribe medications to ease pain, fight inflammation, and to help you get a better night's sleep.
Spinal injections are used for both treatment and diagnostic purposes. There are several different types of spinal injections that your Doctor may suggest. These injections usually use a mixture of an anesthetic and some type of cortisone preparation. The anaesthetic is a medication that numbs the area where it is injected. If the injection takes away your pain immediately, this gives your Doctor important information suggesting that the injected area is indeed the source of your pain. The cortisone decreases inflammation and can reduce the pain from an inflamed nerve or joint for a prolonged period of time.
Some injections are more difficult to perform and require the use of a fluoroscope. A fluoroscope is a special type of X-ray that allows the Doctor to see an X-ray picture continuously on a TV screen. The fluoroscope is used to guide the needle into the correct place before the injection is given.
Epidural Steroid Injection: Neck pain or pain that spreads down the arm may require treatment with an epidural steroid injection (ESI). In an ESI, the medication mixture is injected into the epidural space around the nerve roots. Generally, an ESI is given only when other non operative treatments aren't working. ESIs are not always successful in relieving pain. If they do work, they may only provide temporary relief.
Selective Nerve Root Injection: Another type of injection to place steroid medication around a specific inflamed nerve root is called a selective nerve root injection. The fluoroscope is used to guide a needle directly to the painful spinal nerve. The nerve root is then bathed with the medication. Some doctors believe this procedure gets more medication to the painful spot. In difficult cases, the selective nerve root injection can also help surgeons decide which nerve root is causing the problem before surgery is planned.