by Katherine Heineman, DO at Holistic Care Approach
What is the significance of neck and arm pain?
Neck pain is common, disabling, and costly. Around 2/3 of population will have neck pain at some point, with prevalence highest in middle age.
What is one of the most common reasons for neck and arm pain?
Cervical strain/sprain is one of the most common reasons for neck and arm pain. Often, other pathology may need to be ruled out, including fractures, disc herniation, infection, or tumors, but cervical strain/sprain remains the second most frequent musculoskeletal cause of consultation in primary care.
What is cervical strain or cervical sprain?
Cervical strain and sprain are muscular in origin. Cervical strain is produced by an overload injury to the muscle-tendon unit because of excessive forces on the cervical spine. Cervical sprain is thought to be caused by the elongation or tearing of small muscles or ligaments.
What are common causes of cervical strain or sprain?
Day-to-day activities or trauma can often lead to cervical strain or sprain such as whiplash injuries from motor vehicle accidents (minor or major), day-to-day repetition or over-use injuries, falls, or postural neck problems, to name a few.
What are common clinical syndromes or diagnoses associated with cervical strain or sprain?
If you are experiencing neck and/or arm pain, apart from a diagnosis of cervical spine sprain or strain, you may also have been diagnosed with one or more of the following:cervical myofascial pain, cervical soft tissue pain syndrome, cervical acceleration/deceleration injury, extension/flexion injury, whiplash syndrome, hyperflexion/hyperextension injury, and/or neck or shoulder girdle soft tissue injury.
What are the most common symptoms associated with cervical strain or cervical sprain?
Shoulder, scapular, and/or arm pain
Neurologic symptoms (weakness or heaviness in the arms, numbness, and paresthesia)
Difficulty sleeping due to pain
Disturbed concentration and memory
No specific pathology on imaging or diagnostic studies
What are common treatments for cervical sprain/strain?
Common treatments include: pain medication, NSAIDS, muscle relaxants, trigger point injections, or physical therapy.
What if my doctor has prescribed a variety of the above options and I am still experiencing neck pain?
Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) of the cervical spine for neck pain is the second most common use of manipulative therapy. Various gentle techniques are applied in areas of impaired or altered function of the body framework (usually in this case, this includes your neck, shoulders, and upper back) to release the sprain and strain on the muscle tissues and to promote blood flow, thus enhancing the body’s own healing ability. With my use of OMT, I never apply force or use thrusting techniques.
What is my outcome with neck and arm pain?
Your outcome depends on the underlying cause and whether your pain is an acute or chronic problem. Studies show that even a single intervention with osteopathic manipulation has been shown to decrease neck pain. I will often recommend a short series of treatments (usually one treatment for 3 or 4 weeks) in order for the body to begin to heal appropriately. Most cases of neck and arm pain have some element of muscle strain or sprain, and if so, you should see improvement with manipulation.
What are other options at Holistic Care Approach for my neck and arm pain?
Apart from osteopathic manipulation, you may also benefit from acupuncture treatment, massage therapy, or a variety of supplements to support your system.
If you are new to osteopathic manipulation and have questions you’d like answered prior to beginning care, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our office: 616-361-9221.
We look forward to seeing you!
Dr. Heineman is physician specializing in Neuro-Musculoskeletal Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (NMM/OMM). She commonly screens for nutritional deficiencies and offers expanded testing for thyroid, adrenal and other hormonal dysfunction. She is now practicing out of Holistic Care Approach and is serving as its Medical Director.