Mind Body Restoration

Neck and Back - Strategies for Improving Pain

Neck and back pain are a pervasive problem and a very common reason for individuals to seek medical attention. According to the American Chiropractic Association, up to 80% of the U.S. population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Up to 70% of adults experience neck pain that interferes with their daily activities. In fact, some reports indicate that at any given time, 15% to 20% of adults will have some degree of back pain and 10% to 20% of neck pain symptoms. In fact, back and neck pain consistently ranks in the top five disabling disorders in the United States. These statistics illustrate the tremendous impact of back and neck pain on the general public. However, even with the prevalence of these issues, the source of neck and back pain is not easily diagnosed. Back-Pain-MedX-Service

Some causes for neck and back pain (according to a list developed by Johns Hopkins Medicine) include:

● Overuse, strenuous activity, or improper use, such as repetitive or heavy lifting

● Trauma, injury, or fractures

● Degeneration of vertebrae, often caused by stresses on the muscles and ligaments that support your spine, or the effects of aging

● Infection

● Abnormal growth, such as a tumor or bone spur

● Obesity, which places increased weight on your spine, and pressure on your discs

● Poor muscle tone

● Muscle tension or spasm

● Sprain or strain

● Ligament or muscle tears

● Joint problems, such as arthritis

● Smoking

● Protruding or herniated (slipped) disk and pinched nerve

● Osteoporosis and compression fractures

● Congenital (present at birth) abnormalities of your vertebrae and bones

● Abdominal problems, such as an aortic aneurysm

Neck and back pain can be a complicated and layered issue, but they are often associated with one another. Fortunately, there are many strategies and minor interventions that can bring some relief to exhausting back and neck pain issues. Of course, you should always consult with a primary care physician before trying any new therapies or treatments.

How are neck and back pain related?

The spine connects the neck and back, which is often why pain in one is associated with, or related to, the other. The neck, also referred to as the cervical spine, is part of the spine and protects the spinal cord. This is often why neck pain is included in similar conditions that cause back pain.

Movement and Exercise

Clinical guidelines often suggest movement and exercise as the most important management strategy for neck and back pain. Overall, there is a general consensus that exercise produces the largest reduction in pain and disability and therefore should play a major role in the management of chronic neck and back pain. A systematic review of research on the impact of exercise on cervical spine mobility showed positive results, as well as direct evidence to the benefits of mind-body exercise interventions. Specifically, many studies have revealed the benefits of yoga and stretching for reducing chronic or acute nonspecific pain. One study concluded yoga to relieve neck pain intensity, improve pain-related function and cervical range of motion, as well as boost mood and reported quality of life! Yoga has been found to be an effective, complementary treatment option for lower back pain as well.

Additional Interventions

Other interventions and strategies to relieve pain include massage, ice/heat methods, and Chiropractic care. Although massage has only shown to provide short-term relief, it could still provide some comfort to those needing some reprieve. Mild improvements were also noticed with the addition of ice/heat. Specifically for individuals suffering from pregnancy related back and neck pain, one review of the literature indicated chiropractic care as a favorable strategy for relieving pain.

Conclusion

Neck and back pain problems are widespread. Consequences include chronic pain, disability, and high healthcare utilization, all of which cause tremendous stress and unnecessary burden to individuals, families, and communities. There are many life circumstances that can cause back and neck pain–trauma, injury, strenuous activity, poor posture, certain medical conditions, or even poor sleep conditions. Even as people age, they are certainly more likely to feel the uncomfortable pangs of neck and back pain. Some might say this type of discomfort is just a part of life, but there are ways to improve or minimize pain. Consult with a healthcare professional to see if one of these strategies might be right for you!

References

Braun, M., Schwickert, M., Nielsen, A., Brunnhuber, S., Dobos, G., Musial, F., Lüdtke, R., & Michalsen, A. (2011). Effectiveness of traditional Chinese "gua sha" therapy in patients with chronic neck pain: a randomized controlled trial. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.), 12(3), 362–369. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01053.x

Bovim G, Schrader H, Sand T. Neck pain in the general population. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 1994;19:1307–9.

Brattberg G, Thorslund M, Wikman A. The prevalence of pain in a general population. The results of a postal survey in a county of Sweden. Pain 1989;37:215–22.

Cote P, Cassidy JD, Carroll LJ, et al. The annual incidence and course of neck pain in the general population: a population-based cohort study. Pain 2004;112:267–73.

Furlan, A. D., Giraldo, M., Baskwill, A., Irvin, E., & Imamura, M. (2015). Massage for low-back pain. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2015(9), CD001929. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD001929.pub3

Kelsey JL, White AA 3rd. Epidemiology and impact of low-back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 1980;5:133–42.

Li, Y., Li, S., Jiang, J., & Yuan, S. (2019). Effects of yoga on patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain: A PRISMA systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine, 98(8), e14649. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000014649

Liao, Xianhui MDa; Ge, Beihai PhDb; Chen, Qiang MPHc,∗. The effect of mind-body exercise on the cervical spine mobility of people with neck discomfort: A protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine 100(22):p e26112, June 04, 2021. | DOI: 10.1097/MD.0000000000026112

Martin, B. I., Deyo, R. A., Mirza, S. K., Turner, J. A., Comstock, B. A., Hollingworth, W., & Sullivan, S. D. (2008). Expenditures and health status among adults with back and neck problems. JAMA, 299(6), 656–664. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.299.6.656

Murray, C. J., Atkinson, C., Bhalla, K., Birbeck, G., Burstein, R., Chou, D., Dellavalle, R., Danaei, G., Ezzati, M., Fahimi, A., Flaxman, D., Foreman, Gabriel, S., Gakidou, E., Kassebaum, N., Khatibzadeh, S., Lim, S., Lipshultz, S. E., London, S., Lopez, … U.S. Burden of Disease Collaborators (2013). The state of US health, 1990-2010: burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. JAMA, 310(6), 591–608. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2013.13805

Traeger AC, Qaseem A, McAuley JH. Low Back Pain. JAMA. 2021;326(3):286. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.19715

Weiner, D. K., Kim, Y. S., Bonino, P., & Wang, T. (2006). Low back pain in older adults: are we utilizing healthcare resources wisely?. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.), 7(2), 143–150. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1526-4637.2006.00112.x

de Zoete RM, Armfield NR, McAuley JH, et alComparative effectiveness of physical exercise interventions for chronic non-specific neck pain: a systematic review with network meta-analysis of 40 randomised controlled trialsBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2021;55:730-742.

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