Chiropractic Care and Neck Pain

AXXHW2 Female chiropractor adjusts the head, neck and spine of female patient.

Long hours of work in front of workstations and driving very long distances non-stop are examples of common activities that our modern life entails. Most often hunching cannot be totally avoided in these activities. This and other bad habits related to our posture, work, play and sleep can take their tolls on our neck and cause chronic pain. Next to back pain, neck pain is the most common condition chiropractors treat. Millions of people suffer from neck pain at some point in their life and most seek chiropractic treatment.

Causes of Neck Pain

Many factors contribute to neck pain, some are controllable such as overuse and posture, while others are beyond our control such as trauma and degeneration. These factors can cause injury to the structures surrounding the upper region of the spine, such as, joints, muscles, discs, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and nerves.

  • Trauma – Neck injuries from accidents at work, sports or a car accident can result to neck pain. Whiplash, a neck injury sustained from the sudden backward and forward or sideways movement of the head, often from a car accident, is also a common trauma that leads to neck pain.
  • Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) or overuse – They are injuries resulting from overuse or repetitive motions that cause imbalance in the way our body repairs broken down tissues. Injury and pain can occur when the human body’s tissue repair function cannot cope with the rate of the tissue breakdown from overuse or repeated physical movements. RSI causes damage to nerves, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
  • Wear and tear – Osteoarthritis or joint degeneration and wear and tear are the results of the accumulation of trauma and stresses in the body, over time. Due to the pressures of daily life, the spine is made to withstand tremendous strain. The degenerative development in the spine leads to spinal mobility and stiffness.
  • Poor and static posture or inactivity – Poor posture and being static can contribute to muscle imbalance and lead to muscle pain. Sitting for long periods of time, for example, will not only put pressure in the lower back but can also affect the muscles in the neck, legs and arms. Dynamic activities help the blood to flow through the musculature. It helps flush away lactic acid build up in the muscles and other by-products, which can lead to pain.
  • A slumped posture causes stress to the musculoskeletal structures, which can lead to headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, jaw pain and numbness in the hands or arms
  • Pillow – Poor quality pillow will not support your head nor hold your neck in alignment but cause muscle tension around it.

 

Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain

 

The chiropractor will first conduct a thorough diagnostic examination to determine the specific cause of the neck pain before deciding on the approach to treat the disorder. The chiropractor may use imaging techniques as such as x-ray or MRI to zero in on the exact cause of the neck pain.

The chiropractor, based on the results of the diagnosis, may use spinal manipulation techniques, manual therapy or a combination of these with other techniques for the treatment of the neck pain.

The spinal manipulation techniques that the doctor of chiropractic may employ are:

  • Flexion-distraction technique – a hands-on gentle spinal manipulation involving pumping action, instead of direct force, on the vertebral disc.
  • Specific spinal manipulation – a technique that uses a gentle thrusting action to help restore movement of the joints.
  • Instrument-assisted manipulation – a technique that allows the chiropractor to apply force to the spine without thrusting action through the use of a hand-held instrument.

As the chiropractor sees appropriate and necessary, a wide range of other techniques can be included in the treatment plan and employed. They may include:

  • Soft tissue therapy – diagnoses and treats muscle tension through the use of a special instrument
  • Joint stretching technique/resistance technique – helps relieve neck pain
  • Therapeutic massage and exercises – helps in muscle relaxation and improves range of motion in the neck
  • Trigger point therapy – relieves muscle tightness and pain

We should not find consolation in knowing that neck pain is common. It is not normal and that should cause us to be concerned. It is important to address it sooner, instead of dilly dallying or worse, ignoring it. It is more difficult to get rid of a health problem, the longer you have it. Get help from your chiropractor with your neck pain. An effective diagnosis and treatment can get you out of further trouble with your health and improve your quality of life.

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