CHIROPRACTIC CARE FOR NECK PAIN
Neck pain is a literal pain in the neck. The pain may came and go or remain constant; it may be dull and nagging or sharp and sudden. It may have an obvious cause or the cause may be a mystery to you. However the pain manifests itself, it does not change the fact that something has triggered the pain response in your body.
Pain is our body’s way of letting us know that something isn’t right. It’s a warning bell to our brain to say, “Hey! Something’s wrong here! Take notice!” Sometimes, we recognize neck pain as a simple strain from sleeping in an odd position and know it will go away with a few simple stretches. At other times, the cause of the pain and how to treat it is less obvious to us. If the pain doesn’t go away within a day or two or with rest, ice, or stretching, it’s time to consult a medical professional.
Chiropractors treat neck pain, also called cervical pain, every day using a variety of simple, non-invasive, drug-free techniques that can lessen your immediate level of pain and, in some cases, eliminate it for good. There is no need to gut through the pain, or worse yet, resign yourself to living with it, when a chiropractor can help you obtain relief quickly and with long-lasting results that require nothing more than a few short office visits.
Neck Pain Symptoms
Neck pain affects people of all ages. If you’ve got a neck, you’ll probably have neck pain at some point in your life. Neck pain has become increasingly common as we sit at desks for more hours each day and as we increase our use of computers, tablets, and smartphones. Poor posture and constantly craning the neck down can put great strain on the neck, which has the very important job of holding up your entire head, which averages 11 pounds in an adult. The end result is tense and strained muscles that cause pain in the neck and even headaches and back pain.
Stiffness or tenderness in the neck are the most obvious symptoms of neck pain, but other symptoms exist that could indicate a problem that originates in the neck. These include:
- Muscle spasms of the neck
- Finger, arm, or leg weakness, tingling, or numbness
- Headaches and nausea
- Limited range of motion and flexibility of the neck
- Swelling of the neck
How neck pain manifests, or feels, differs from person to person and from condition to condition. As mentioned above, the pain may be localized or widespread. It may be sharp or dull. It may be constant or infrequent. Like all types of pain, how much a person is affected by neck pain is highly personal. Some people struggle to make it through the day with a simple strain. Others have no problem living with a pinched nerve that causes neck pain. Regardless of the level of pain you are in, if you are in pain at all, you need to have it diagnosed and treated.
Causes of Neck Pain
There’s a nearly limitless list of causes of neck pain. Something as simple as turning your head too quickly can hurt your neck just as easily as something as serious as being involved in a car accident can hurt the neck. Neck pain is commonly caused by:
- Postural problems
- Injuries or accidents
- Sleeping with the neck unsupported or in an odd position
- Muscle spasms or strains caused by movement
- Abnormalities in bones, joints, and the spine
- Degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis
- Compressed nerves
- Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, or meningitis
Diagnosing the Cause of Neck Pain
Proper diagnosis of neck pain is crucial to developing a treatment plan. Without addressing the root cause of the pain, the pain is likely to recur, even after successful initial treatment. Chiropractors always begin treatment with a thorough physical exam and medical history.
Your exam will begin with a full evaluation of your spine and vertebral column. The exam will include palpation and possibly X-rays or MRIs, depending on your symptoms. Palpation is simply touching the joints in your neck and spine to feel for proper movement. The chiropractor may ask you to move your neck from side to side to evaluate your range of motion and flexibility and he or she may ask you to walk across the room to evaluate your posture.
This full spinal exam is important because chiropractors treat the spine as a whole, just as they treat the whole person. Since the neck is connected to the spine, it’s very possible for pain to manifest in the neck, but be caused by a problem in the middle or lower back. Neglecting to address a problem in the back could make it impossible to alleviate the neck symptoms.
This is a very different approach from that used by medical doctors. Medical doctors tend to only treat the symptoms. Were you to visit a family practitioner for neck pain, for example, you may find yourself walking out with a prescription for painkillers. While this will dull the pain, it does not correct the problem that caused the pain, and the pain my return and even intensify.
Doctors of Chiropractic take a different approach and treat the underlying cause in order to eliminate symptoms entirely, thus eliminating the need for drugs or more invasive techniques like surgery. In addition to a physical exam, the Doctor of Chiropractic may ask you about your stress level, nutritional habits, and the amount and type of exercise you engage in.
This is all done to develop an understanding of your body mechanics and to identify possible causes of your pain or discomfort so that a customized treatment plan can be developed for you.
Chiropractic Treatment Options
Chiropractors are best known for their physical manipulation of the spine – resulting in that cracking and popping we associate with joints being physically moved back into position. But, chiropractors use many more techniques than just spinal manipulation to treat and manage neck pain and improve joint mobility. The treatments used depend on the underlying cause of the cervical pain. Common techniques and treatments include:
- Trigger-Point Therapy or Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy. Trigger Point Therapy is the application of pressure to specific areas of tightness, tension, or discomfort (eg., muscle knots) to release those muscles, which may be causing pain to appear elsewhere, such as in the neck. After treatment, the muscles relax into more natural, pain-free positions.
- Traction. Traction covers a range of treatment techniques that may or may not involve the use or machines or weights to help push and pull the spine and joints into proper alignment. The technique helps decompress the spine and relieve pressure.
- Instrument-Assisted Manipulation. Using a hand-held instrument, the chiropractor can apply small bursts of direct force to the problem area without affecting the entire spine.
- Soft-Tissue Therapies. Massage, heat, and ice may all be used to loosen up tense or strained muscles or reduce inflammation.
- Exercises. Stretching and strengthening exercises may be recommended to help reduce muscle strain and tension and improve the range of motion in your neck. This is especially helpful for long-term, chronic neck pain that is triggered by postural problems.
These are just some of the techniques a chiropractor can use to treat neck pain. Your specific treatment plan may contain some or all of the above-mentioned techniques as well as others that have been recommended specifically for your condition.
Chiropractic Provides Safe, Effective, and Long-Term Treatment of Neck Pain
For neck pain that does not require surgery, chiropractic care is an ideal solution. It is safe and effective without being invasive or requiring the use of medication. Since chiropractic techniques target the underlying condition that is causing the pain, instead of just the pain symptoms, treatment is also long-lasting. Proper body mechanics and the restoration of those proper mechanics are central to chiropractic care. Getting the neck back into its’ proper position so it can support the head and body as it is intended to is the ultimate goal. As a result, neck pain is also eliminated.
Pinnacle Chiropractic and Spinal Rehab Center offers a variety of services and treatment techniques to relieve neck pain. Our Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Aaron Casselman, DC consults closely with each patient to develop customized treatment plans that address his or her specific concern or condition. The result is a highly targeted treatment program that yields impressive results and helps patients regain movement and mobility in the neck, while simultaneously decreasing, and even eliminating, neck pain.