What is idiopathic neck pain and why is it almost never the working diagnosis within the modern dorsalgia treatment industry? As patient educators and advocates, most of the chronic pain we observe is definitely idiopathic, since no evidence exists conclusively linking it to any anatomical process. However, very few patients have been told this by their physicians. Instead, most have been given a structural diagnosis, regardless of how illogical the diagnosis might be! This is an occurrence that has shocked us for many years and continues to shock us each time to this day!
This post describes and explains idiopathic symptoms in the neck anatomy. We will discuss in detail why idiopathic pain should be a more common diagnosis and more importantly, why it is almost never diagnosed now.
What is Idiopathic Neck Pain?
Idiopathic means “of unknown origin”. It does not mean psychosomatic. It does not mean imaginary. It does not imply any doubt of the pain being 100% real. It simply means that the pain exists, but the source has NOT been positively identified. The vast majority of chronic pain falls into this category, but fewer than 1% of affected patients are told that they have idiopathic pain… How is this possible?
Scapegoats. Scapegoats take the blame for virtually serious and chronic neck pain, even when they are NOT the cause. Scapegoat conditions exist in the general population universally. This means that basically all adults will have them to one degree or another in the neck anatomy. Typical scapegoats include bulging discs, degenerated discs, minor changes in spinal curvature (hypolordosis or hyperlordosis, most commonly), typical osteoarthritis and facet joint changes, as well as spinal and foraminal stenosis.
All of the above conditions can cause pain and neurological consequences. However, most of the time, they don’t. This is because these are all normal and expected parts of spinal aging and most conditions will never progress to symptomatic levels. However, this does not prevent these asymptomatic conditions from being blamed for pain and treated at great profit.
Proper diagnostic evaluation will objectively eliminate at least half of the scapegoat diagnoses we observe daily. This proves that doctors overlook (accidentally or purposefully) much evidence that would and should discount particular diagnostic theories routinely! This is frightening!
Proper clinical evaluation, physical exam and symptomatic correlation will eliminate most of the remaining cases. Therefore, at least 90% of idiopathic pain can NOT be logically blamed on structural scapegoats, IF doctors were properly doing their jobs. However, this type of in-depth diagnostic work is not only very time consuming, but also unproductive from an economic POV.
Basically, doctors have no time to spend on messy diagnostic workups that will inevitably cost them from moving the patient into profitable neck pain treatment. It is much easier to simply blame a structural scapegoat and move forward into making money, regardless of the accuracy of the diagnosis or the consequences on the patient’s life.
Idiopathic Neck Pain Reality
As enlightened care providers, we tend to think ahead of the curve. We have extensive experience in treating and curing chronic pain that defies traditional, complementary and alternative care approaches. This is our specialty. We have always been highly critical of our industry, which is why we deviate from the norm when it comes to our view on idiopathic pain in many ways…
We go one step beyond what even the most enlightened traditional doctor will do. We do not just diagnose pain as being idiopathic, we continue to search out and find its actual underlying cause outside of the usual anatomical possibilities. Our work has proven to us (and our successfully treated patients!) that most chronic pain is derived in the subconscious mind, despite whatever its symptoms and triggers might be physically. By treating this underlying psychoemotional causation, chronic pain can be cured. Not relieved temporarily with heavy drugs, injections or surgery, just to have it come back hours,, days or weeks later… No. Cured.
Therefore, we will end this important dialog with a vital lesson. Virtually no pain is idiopathic. All symptoms have a causation. However, it might take looking outside the box of the physical body in order to find the dysfunction. Sure, never discount the lesser consider possibilities that a systemic process or disease process might also source seemingly spinal or muscular symptoms. BUT, also do not overlook the very real possibility that the mindbody processes is causing the pain using ischemia as its symptomatic mechanism. We observe this travesty throughout the healthcare arts and sciences continuously, which is why we work to right this wrong through patient education and enlightened clinical practice.