Chicago Neck Pain and Shoulder Pain Specialist
If you are living with neck or shoulder pain, you’ll know how inconvenient and disruptive it can be to even minor daily tasks.
At Align Joint & Spine, Chicago, we are dedicated to bringing patients the best physical therapy and chiropractic care available to help diagnose and treat neck and shoulder pain.
No one should live with pain on a daily basis.
Our resident chiropractor and physical therapist, Dr Daniel Jacobazzi, shares his expertise on dealing with neck and shoulder pain. Read on for all the information you need about the causes, management and treatment of neck and shoulder pain.
What Causes Neck and Shoulder Pain?
There are many reasons why a patient might be experiencing neck or shoulder pain. The most common causes are overuse, injury and degeneration. The neck is one of the strongest parts of the human body; it must be, in order to take the weight of the head which in adults weighs on average around 10 to 12 pounds. The shoulders take the weight of the arms and are important for maintaining arm mobility and functionality. Pain in the shoulders can lead to problems with the arms and hands that can seriously affect day-to-day life.
When caught off guard, as happens in many injurious situations such as car crashes or sports accidents, the neck is vulnerable to serious problems like whiplash, neck sprain or a herniated disc. If the patient is suffering with a disease or infection, there can be a range of other neck problems including lymph node swelling and pain from osteoarthritis.
Read on for more detailed information on some of the main causes of neck and shoulder pain.
One of the most common causes of neck or shoulder pain is a strained muscle. This can occur when fibers, or tendons, in the muscle become stretched or torn, and can vary in intensity depending on the location and seriousness of the tear.
Neck or Shoulder Sprain
The term ‘sprain’ is often used interchangeably with ‘strain’, although the two are subtly different. While a strain occurs as a result of stretching or tearing tendons and can result in muscle spasms, a neck or shoulder sprain happens when there is a stretching or tearing of ligaments which connect bones together, resulting in bruising around the joint.
Whiplash Associated Disorders (WADs)
Whiplash is the term used to describe the energy transfer to the neck that occurs most often in traffic collisions and in sports injuries. Whiplash Associated Disorders (WADs) – the symptoms that affect the neck after such an incident- can be incredibly painful and can disrupt everyday life and seriously affect mobility and functionality of the neck if left untreated.
The symptoms of strains and sprains in the neck or shoulders are best treated with physical therapy.
Cervical Herniated Disc
A cervical herniated disc is another cause of neck and shoulder pain. Cervical discs are essentially inbuilt shock-absorbers located between the vertebrae in the spine. They can become damaged from degeneration or from injury, and this can result in a cervical herniated disc. A herniated disc in this area can cause chronic neck and shoulder pain, as well as pain in other parts of the body and should be treated as soon as possible.
A trapped nerve in the neck or shoulder can cause the patient to experience chronic pain. It occurs when a nerve becomes irritated and compressed, resulting in numbness, spasms and often pain. Symptoms of a trapped nerve can be relieved with physical therapy and chiropractic treatment.
Lymph Node Swelling
Also known as lymph glands, lymph nodes in the the neck are located either side of the throat. These can swell during an infection and spread neck pain, which can then spread to the shoulder, if they don’t go down within a reasonable period of time.
Osteoarthritis is a serious condition where the protective layer of cartilage between connecting bones wears away and affects the movement between the joints. When this occurs between the cervical bones in the neck, it is called cervical Osteoarthritis, and is a cause of chronic neck and subsequent shoulder pain. It can be caused by a number of factors, most commonly genetics, injury and everyday wear and tear. The condition can be exacerbated in patients who are overweight.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another cause of chronic neck and shoulder pain. It is a disease caused by bacteria and viruses attacking the body, causing the smooth cartilage between the joints to become inflamed and deteriorate. This can occur anywhere in the body – sometimes in between the cervical bone connections, and can lead to a lot of pain.
Whether it’s a muscle tear, damage to a ligament or the result of a problem with the joints, continuous neck and shoulder pain should be treated professionally. Dr Jacobazzi is a leading physical therapist, chiropractor and neck pain specialist Chicago residents have trusted for over two decades.
Why Do I Have Both Neck and Shoulder Pain?
Neck and shoulder pain are often experienced together as the neck and shoulder share some of the same muscles and nerve pathways. The muscles on the back of the neck are connected to those of the shoulder blade, for example. The nerves that deliver signals for the operation of the arms are connected to the spinal column which is joined to the bottom of the neck and across the shoulders.
This interconnectedness means that pain signals delivered from the neck and shoulder region can be difficult for the brain to interpret, meaning that the patient experiences pain across both areas. Furthermore, neck pain may well limit motion of the muscles in that region, causing a forced reduction in movement of the shoulders, and vice versa. If neck pain is treated, shoulder pain will be reduced. Ideally physical therapy and chiropractic care should be used to treat such pain, and will focus on the area surrounding the affected region as well as the region itself.
Physical therapy and chiropractic care are some of the best treatments for neck and shoulder pain, as they offer a comprehensive treatment that targets all regardless of the cause of the pain.
How Is the Neck and Shoulder Connected?
The shoulder joint is made up of three distinct bones: the clavicle (or collarbone), the scapula (or shoulder blade) and the long arm bone (or humerus). Combines with the corresponding tendons, ligaments and muscles, the shoulder joint is a highly flexible but complex part of the body.
As the two parts are so closely connected, it is common for neck and shoulder pain to be experienced at the same time, and for treatment in one area it is best to target the whole neck and shoulder area.
What Are the Long Term Effects of Neck and Shoulder Pain?
No one should have to live with ongoing pain – whether it is mild or intense. Long term chronic neck and shoulder pain can lead to decreased mobility and functionality. If you are unable to perform daily tasks without experiencing pain, your mental health can also suffer as a result.
Visit Dr Jacobazzi if you are experiencing pain in your shoulders or neck (or both). He is dedicated to diagnosing and treating patients with all sorts of joint pains, and will offer you the best advice and treatment available in the Chicago area, so you can get back on the move.
How Are Neck and Shoulder Pain Treated?
The direction for treatment of neck or shoulder pain is always dictated by the cause of the pain. Many things can lead to long term pain in the neck and shoulder area.
Poor posture can provoke neck and shoulder pain as it places excess strain on the muscles. Physical therapy can help address issues with posture and draw attention to body mechanics that are exacerbating the pain. Seek advice from our registered physical therapist who can teach you how to perform exercises, stretches and posture improvement to ease neck and shoulder pain.
Overuse is another common problem that can lead to chronic shoulder pain, especially in athletes who perform overarm throws (such as pitchers in baseball). Overuse can be treated with resting the joint and performing gentle exercises which help to maintain flexibility and reduce spasms, stiffness and pain in the affected area.
How Can Physical Therapy and Chiropractic Care Help With Neck Pain or Shoulder Pain?
One of the most serious effects of pain in any area of the body is that it limits movement. Both physical therapists and chiropractors have the goal to help you improve mobility and ease the pain. Both practitioners help relieve pain with specific gentle exercises. Chiropractors focus primarily on the central nervous system in the spine. They can help to release trapped muscles and perform spine adjustments which helps to ease pain in other parts of the body. As well as performing these treatments, physical therapists and chiropractors can offer valuable advice and recommendations for how to ease pain at home.
8 Tips for Easing Neck and Shoulder Pain at Home
There are lots of ways you can help ease your neck pain. After visiting a qualified physical therapist or chiropractor, it’s a good idea to take some time at home to reduce the pain yourself. Here are the 10 best tips on the best things to do to ease neck pain, from the comfort of your house:
- Eat Healthy
A nutritious, balanced diet is essential for keeping you healthy on a day-to-day basis, but it is also an important factor in helping to reduce neck and shoulder pain. Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in salmon and walnuts and leafy green vegetables, and avoid saturated fats and refined carbohydrates.
- Stay Hydrated
Pain in the joints can be exacerbated by dehydration. Water helps boost your immune system, flush out toxins and keep you energized – all of which help to reduce the effects of neck and shoulder pain.
- Sleep Comfortably with Proper Support
On average, we spend a third of our lives asleep in bed, so it’s a good idea to make healthy decisions when you sleep. Sleeping on your back (if possible this is the best), using a supportive pillow (small pillow or ideally just a rolled up towel in your neck) and a high quality and supportive mattress are all excellent ways to spread out weight distribution and reduce pain in the neck or shoulders while you sleep.
Swimming is a great way to ease pain. The combination of having the water hold up your weight and the gentle exercise help build muscles in the back, neck, shoulders and legs and can help ease any stiffness which can lead to pain.
- Use Heat Therapy
Undoubtedly one of the best ways to help alleviate pain, a heated pad can help draw out and relax inflamed joints in the neck and shoulders. You can also use a hot water bottle, and taking a nice hot bath is another good option.
- Use Ice Therapy
Another popular form of pain relief for the neck and shoulders is Ice therapy. Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, helps by reducing inflammation and swelling between the joints that can lead to chronic pain. Use an ice pack at home to ease the pain.
- Exercise and Stretch
Perform simple neck stretches and exercises throughout the day. Exercising regularly and stretching helps strengthen muscles and relieve tension between the joints.
- Pay Attention to Your Posture
Poor posture, especially in modern everyday life, which for many of us is spent hunched in front of a screen, is one of the most common causes of neck and shoulder pain. Be aware of your posture throughout the day and get advice from a physical therapist for how best to improve yours.
Seek Professional Help For Your Neck And Shoulder Pain
- Visit a Physical Therapist
Persistent neck and shoulder pain should always be treated by a professional physical therapist. A practitioner in physical therapy is a great source of help, advice and information when it comes to alleviating neck and shoulder pain. Seek professional help as soon as possible so you can get on with enjoying a pain-free life.
If you’re living in Chicago, Illinois and the surrounding area, and you’re experiencing pain in your neck, seek professional help from a neck pain specialist Chicago can be proud of.
Contact Align Joint and Spine clinic today to make an appointment.