No other spine problem gives more clinical challenge than neck, shoulder and arm pain (radiculopathy). The cause of arm pain (which is cervical spine radiculopathy) is most commonly a herniated cervical disc, or degenerative disc and facet joints disease resulting in spinal stenosis, or a combination of the two problems. Arm pain radiculopathy follows the course of a spinal nerve in the cervical spine (neck) that is compressed or chemically inflamed. Nerve roots branch out from between the neck vertebrae and converge to form the peripheral nerves that control the upper extremities (shoulder, upper arm, lower arm, wrist, and hand).
Sources of Neck Pain:
Injuries like those that occur from whiplash (rear-end car collisions) or falls on the head can lie dormant for years. Vertebrae can shift out of normal position, resulting in sub-optimal joint movement. Eventually, degenerative changes follow due to the redistribution of mechanical muscular forces at the joint surface, leading to pain and dysfunction. A good analogy is a car's wheel alignment being knocked off center after hitting a curb: the wheel's mechanics are disturbed, and pretty soon the tire tread thins unevenly and the brake starts making noises.
Pain is your neck's way of telling you that there is something mechanically wrong that you should get checked out.
Discs are the tough ligaments that hold vertebrae together while allowing them to move in unison. A disc is comprised of two main parts: an outer annulus and an inner, jelly-like structure called the nucleus pulposus. When healthy, the tight rings of the annulus keep the nucleus inside. When weakened, the nucleus can punch through the annulus, making it to the outside. This usually occurs from trauma, lifting a heavy load, or in rare cases, simply coughing or sneezing. The condition is called a herniated nucleus pulposus, or HNP for short. Being that the outer layer of the annulus has a high density of nerve endings, HNPs can be very painful. If the nucleus presses against a nerve root, it may cause radiating pain down into the arm, or leg.
Degenerative joint disease can cause bony projections to narrow the canal where the spinal cord resides. As a result, the spinal cord can get compressed. This can lead to local pain and bilateral (both sides) numbness and weakness below the compression site.
Chiropractic Manipulation especially Spinal Flexion / Distraction of the cervical spine can help cases of neck pain by gently moving the joint through its physiological range of motion as well as the neurological stimulation of wide diameter “A” fibers that start a chain of neurological events that remodulate the perception of pain by the brain, thus decreasing its intensity, as well as improving disc hydration (nutrition) and facet joints movement. Adjustments also help to prevent the soft tissues surrounding the spine from shortening and calcifying.