When dealing with neck pain, the importance of upper body stiffness and tension cannot be overstated. Sustained muscle contraction – any muscle, even in a hand – is not only an invitation to pain, it can cause pain without a person being aware of the source. If we don’t put our muscles through their full range of motion, they will become stiff in the areas where they never or rarely move.
Neck pain is frequently associated with headaches and pain that spreads through the shoulders and down the arms. Because of this, it is easy to assume that pain which is actually caused by muscles is caused by issues with the spine or nerves. For example, stiffness in the Rhomboids, a muscle between the shoulder blades, can cause pain in the pinky and fourth finger – making it appear to be an issue with the Ulnar nerve. Therefore, it is essential that a physical examination be performed to determine if muscles are a component of your pain. Our evaluation involves electrically stimulating one muscle at a time to determine which muscles, if any, are the source of your pain, allowing us to provide the specific treatment you need. Knowing that muscles are not the reason for your pain is as important as knowing they are. Spine surgery, epidural steroids, facet blocks, or radiofrequency ablation will have a greater frequency of success if muscles have been eliminated as the source of pain.