Neck pain is common, but it is a frustrating medical condition that people usually try to solve on their own. If you also deal with neck pain on a frequent basis or it just started, the chances are high you’ve already tried a thing or two to stop it or maybe you decided to ignore it entirely, hoping it would go away. Prolonged pain can affect your overall quality of life and limit your range of motion, which is something you don’t really want. Since being proactive is important, did you consider chiropractic help? Here’s why you should!
Causes of Neck Pain
To treat neck pain effectively, one has to know its cause which is why you shouldn’t ignore your pain, particularly if prolonged, and see a physician. We can divide causes of neck pain on strains and sprains and chronic pain.
Strains and Sprains
Strains and sprains are the most common causes of neck pain and they usually heal within a few days or weeks. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon has been irritated due to overextension or overuse. On the other hand, you get a sprain when a ligament has been irritated due to overextension or overuse.
The most frequent causes of strains and sprains are the following:
- Holding your head in an unusual position – Basically, anything that requires you to hold the head in an awkward, uncomfortable, and unusual position can lead to sprains and strains
- Poor posture – Inadequate posture causes a wide array of problems, including neck pain. If your head is often tilted forward for longer periods of time, neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments work harder and eventually cause pain
- Repetitive motions – Turning your head in a repetitive motion can also lead to pain e.g. side to side when swimming or dancing
- Sleeping in the wrong position – You’ve probably dealt with this type of pain on more occasions than one. You just wake up in the morning with neck pain which is the result of sleeping in awkward or uncomfortable position wherein your neck is overextended
- Sports injury – It mainly occurs when a person moves his/her neck suddenly or in an unusual manner. Neck pain resulted from sports injury can also occur after a collision or fall
- Whiplash – In whiplash Injury the neck and head are, suddenly, forced forward and immediately backward with strong force. As a result, soft tissues can rupture or be torn
Chronic Neck Pain Causes
Neck pain is considered chronic when it persists for three months or longer and the most common causes are:
- Cervical degenerative disc disease – As you age, discs lose hydration and the ability to cushion spine’s vertebrae. When disc degenerates “enough”, it causes painful irritation
- Cervical herniated disc – While herniated disc can be painless, in some cases it presses against or pinches a cervical nerve, thus causing pain
- Cervical osteoarthritis – Occurs when cartilage in a cervical facet joint wears down so that bone grinds on bone, causing inflammation
- Cervical spinal stenosis and myelopathy – Stenosis is narrowing of spinal canal due to degeneration, while myelopathy is a compression of the spinal cord
- Cervical for aminal stenosis – Occurs when the foramina become narrowed. Foramina are the holes through which nerve roots that branch off from the spinal cord can exit the spinal canal
Chiropractic for Neck Pain
Now that you know difference causes that can lead to neck pain, it’s time to discuss the role of chiropractic in this medical problem. Chiropractic poses as a safe, natural, and effective treatment that goes beyond making adjustments and manipulations.
This method focuses on treating the “whole person”. Why is this important? It’s because when you see your chiropractor, he/she won’t evaluate your neck only, but the entire spine because other regions of the neck, mid-back, and low back may be affected as well.
Besides using chiropractic to alleviate your pain, the chiropractor will also educate you about stress management, proper posture, nutrition, and overall lifestyle modifications to avoid future problems.
To determine the best approach for your neck pain, the chiropractor will carry out a thorough examination to diagnose the cause of pain and discomfort you experience. During this examination, chiropractor identifies the areas of restricted movement. Don’t be surprised if a chiropractor asks you to walk, the way you walk and your posture can also tell a lot about the body’s mechanics.
Besides a physical exam, the chiropractor will ask those standard questions about your medical history and whether there’s a history of neck pain in the family, and so on. To rule out some causes of neck pain, a chiropractor may also order MRI or X-ray.
Chiropractic Treatments for Neck Pain
To alleviate neck pain, your chiropractor may incorporate a combination of manual therapy, spinal manipulation, and some other methods in the treatment.
Most common manual therapies for neck pain include:
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy which diagnoses and treats muscle tension via special instruments
- Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques to alleviate the pain in neck area
- Therapeutic massage to relax the tension
- Trigger point therapy to relieve painful and tight points on muscle
Spinal manipulation treatment options are:
- Flexion-distraction technique – Features a pumping action on intervertebral disc instead of forming a direct force
- Instrument-assisted manipulation – Chiropractor uses an instrument to apply force
- Specific manipulation – Restores joint movement
Other methods your chiropractor might use to alleviate neck pain are an ultrasound to send waves into muscle tissues to relieve stiffness and pain, and there’s also inferential electrical stimulation of neck muscles with the low frequency electrical current.
Does Chiropractic Work?
People who opt for chiropractic to treat neck pain report improvement in their symptoms and reduced discomfort and better mobility. In fact, benefits of chiropractic are well-documented since various studies have confirmed its benefits.
The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine published results of the study which showed that acute neck pain patients showed improvement in their symptoms between the baseline and final evaluation on all outcomes. Additionally, patients didn’t experience some adverse reactions to chiropractic treatment.
The UCLA research published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed that cervical spine manipulation and mobilization yielded positive results. Scientists concluded the study explaining that chiropractic treatment reduced neck pain and related disability in patients.
Moreover, the Annals of Internal Medicine featured a study which showed that patients who used chiropractic treatment to relieve neck pain were more than twice as likely to be pain-free as those who relied on medications.
Causes of neck pain are numerous, but if let untreated the pain and discomfort can affect one’s quality of life. Chiropractic treatment is a natural approach towards pain relief and its efficacy is well-documented. So, if you’re experiencing acute or chronic neck pain, scheduling an appointment at the chiropractor’s office is a good way to be proactive about this problem.