Cervical Angina: When Neck Pain Mimics Heart Troubles

man gripping chest

Cervical angina is a relatively lesser-known medical condition that can perplex both patients and healthcare professionals. It is a condition where neck pain closely mimics the symptoms of cardiac angina, which is chest pain or discomfort caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle. However, in cervical angina, the source of the pain is rooted in the cervical spine rather than the heart.

**What is Cervical Angina?**

Cervical angina, also known as “neck angina” or “cervicogenic chest pain,” is a condition where pain originating in the neck radiates into the chest and can sometimes extend into the shoulder and down the arm. This referred pain can be so intense that it is often confused with heart-related chest pain. It’s typically caused by compression or irritation of the nerves in the cervical spine, often due to issues like herniated discs, osteoarthritis, or degenerative disc disease.

**Symptoms of Cervical Angina**

The symptoms of cervical angina can be quite alarming, as they mirror those of a heart attack. People with this condition may experience chest pain, pressure, or discomfort. They might also feel pain or numbness radiating down the arm, often mimicking the classic pattern of cardiac angina. Other symptoms may include neck pain, shoulder pain, and headaches.

**Diagnosis and Differentiation**

Given the similarity in symptoms, accurate diagnosis is crucial. Healthcare professionals may use various diagnostic tools, including electrocardiograms (ECGs), stress tests, and imaging studies, to differentiate cervical angina from cardiac angina. The absence of heart-related issues in these tests can indicate cervical angina. Additionally, a detailed medical history and physical examination can help pinpoint the source of the pain.

**Conservative Treatment and Management**

Managing cervicogenic chest pain involves addressing the underlying causes. Treatment options can include:

1. Targeted exercises and stretches can strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles, improving mobility and reducing pain.

  • Head traction (Towel Pull)
  • Curve restoration – prone head lift
  • Upper Traps Stretch
  • Bow and Arrow Stretch

2. **Chiropractic Care:** Adjustments, mobilizations and corrective exercises by a chiropractor can help relieve nerve compression and correct posture and spinal alignment.

3. **Lifestyle Changes:** Maintaining a healthy weight, good posture, and regular exercise can prevent worsening of the condition.

**Living with Cervical Angina**

People living with cervical angina should be aware of their condition and the importance of differentiating it from cardiac issues. Maintaining open communication with healthcare providers is key. Cervical angina is a condition that can be both puzzling and distressing due to its similarity to cardiac angina. Awareness, early diagnosis, and the right approach to treatment are essential for managing this condition effectively.

If you or someone you know experiences unexplained chest pain or discomfort, where the heart has been ruled out, having a chiropractor examine your neck may be a good next step. By understanding and managing this condition, individuals can live a better quality of life and reduce the anxiety associated with its symptoms.

Chiropractic on Eagle

4.9 (391)
407 Eagle St, Newmarket, ON L3Y 1K5
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