Back, Neck and Shoulder pain
Studies have estimated that 70% of the population will experience some kind of spine related pain within their lifetimes. We have 33 vertebrae (bones) in our spines; 7 in the neck, 12 in the rib spine, 5 in the low back, 5 in the sacral (pelvis) area and 4 that make up the coccyx (tailbone). Between each vertebra are no less than 5 joints, all of which need to be held in their appropriate position, this job is done by thousands of muscles of various sizes. Muscles receive and transmit information about how they need to behave via nerves; linking them to the brain and spinal cord.
Dysfunction and pain is a symptom that any part of this complex interaction of the bones, joints, muscles and nerves has become compromised. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body. Because it moves so much it is a lot more unstable and subject to injury. Four muscles act to hold the joint together (commonly known as the “rotator cuff”) so that the other 18 muscles attaching to the shoulder can work properly.
Dysfunction of these muscles can lead to pain almost anywhere as they are anchored to the tail bone at the bottom, the tops of the arms, chest and wrap right up over the neck to attach to our heads. There are an endless number of “causes” that can contribute to the development of pain. Some people know exactly what set it off (lifting shopping, putting on socks, tripping over a curb) where as others may have “just woken up with it”. Sedentary jobs, physically demanding jobs, repetitive jobs, driving jobs, lack of exercise, too much exercise, ill health and previous injuries can all affect the body in different ways. For the most part suffering from pain is not normal, it is a sign that your body is dealing with stresses that it cannot readily cope with. Excess physical stress, sudden or prolonged, leads to a chemical reaction in the body called inflammation; our brain interprets this reaction as pain.
How robust your body is denotes how well you can react to and tolerate expected and unexpected physical stress. Our job as physical therapists is to find out how robust you are and why something in your body became weak before becoming stiff and painful. So ultimately neck, back or shoulder pain can arise from strain to any of the joints or muscles within the area. Conditions treated include; “frozen shoulder”, back ache, acute back pain, lumbago, neck pain and associated elbow pain/tennis elbow.