Congenital malformations and neck pain can be related, but neck trauma can also cause painful neck conditions.
The lower end of the cervical spine may have some cervical ribs in the lowest two levels (C6 and C7 levels). This in turn can put pressure onto the brachial plexus and lead to a brachial plexus injury, which can mimic a herniated disc in the neck. However, the real diagnosis in such a congenital cervical rib case with nerve root irritation is “thoracic outlet syndrome”. There are other malformations such as spondylolisthesis, (thanks to www.hughston.com for this link) where one vertebral body is overriding the one of the next level due to a malformation of a bony part, called “pars interarticularis”. Most of these malformations are harmless and need observation only. But a minority of these cases will need surgical attention after a careful work-up by a neurosurgeon.
Most of the neck pains can be managed by the patient at home. Remobilization with physiotherapy, acupuncture treatment, chiropractic treatment (manipulation) and professional massage (Ref.2) helps as well.
The physician likely will recommend one modality over another depending on what the preferences of the patient are and depending on what the clinical presentation is. For instance, if it appears that there is a locking of one of the facet joints along the back of the cervical spine, a gentle manipulation by an experienced chiropractor might give the quickest response. However, if there is a lot of muscle spasm, physiotherapy, massage therapy or acupuncture might be more beneficial.
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