This article gives a well-rounded picture about things that can cause neck and arm pain. However, a patient should consult with their own physician rather than doing a self-diagnosis. Some conditions, such as coronary artery disease (angina) or even lung tumors may mimic these conditions. It is best to have a skilled physician perform a thorough physical examination when the symptoms described are present.
In most circumstances, a medical history and physical examination are the key parts of an evaluation required to diagnose neck pain/disorders. In some cases, individuals who do not respond to starting therapy may undergo specialized radiographic tests, such as plain X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography to screen for additional problems of soft tissues, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, tumors, or nerve injuries.
Mainstream health care and governmental organizations such as the World Health Organization consider chiropractic to be complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); and a 2008 study reported that 31% of surveyed chiropractors categorized chiropractic as CAM, 27% as integrated medicine, and 12% as mainstream medicine. Many chiropractors believe they are primary care providers, including US and UK chiropractors, but the length, breadth, and depth of chiropractic clinical training do not support the requirements to be considered primary care providers, so their role on primary care is limited and disputed.
Injury and Accidents: Whiplash is a common injury sustained during an auto accident. This is typically termed a hyperextension and/or hyperflexion injury because the head is forced to move backward and/or forward rapidly beyond the neck's normal range of motion. The unnatural and forceful movement affects the muscles and ligaments in the neck. Muscles react by tightening and contracting creating muscle fatigue resulting in pain and stiffness.
A 2012 systematic review suggested that the use of spine manipulation in clinical practice is a cost-effective treatment when used alone or in combination with other treatment approaches. A 2011 systematic review found evidence supporting the cost-effectiveness of using spinal manipulation for the treatment of sub-acute or chronic low back pain; the results for acute low back pain were insufficient.
Maruyama et al: “All but one patient [of seven] with migraine considered the pain to be unique and unusual compared with previously experienced headache or neck pain episodes. Nevertheless, pain was often interpreted initially as migraine or musculoskeletal in nature by the patient or the treating doctor.” Arnold et al: “Pain was different from earlier episodes in all but one case [of 20].” BACK TO TEXT
A small number of neck pain patients, particularly those with arm pain or signs of spinal cord compression, require cervical spine surgery. A new option for neck surgery is an artificial disc. This device made of metal and plastic, is the correct choice for a very small number of individuals with neck pain only and no other abnormality in the cervical spine than a worn out disc.
Generally, you can expect to fill out paperwork or a questionnaire explaining your health history, reason for your visit, surgical and family history, any pain you are feeling or any previous injuries you may have. At my appointment, there was a case manager that came in to explain who I would be meeting with and how the appointment would go. This made me much more comfortable about the whole process—I actually felt at ease and excited to keep working through the next steps! Here is an example of the type of forms you will be asked to fill out.