Your neck, also called the cervical spine, begins at the base of the skull and contains seven small vertebrae. Incredibly, the cervical spine supports the full weight of your head, which is on average about 12 pounds. While the cervical spine can move your head in nearly every direction, this flexibility makes the neck very susceptible to pain and injury.
The neck’s susceptibility to injury is due in part to biomechanics. Activities and events that affect cervical biomechanics include extended sitting, repetitive movement, accidents, falls and blows to the body or head, normal aging, and everyday wear and tear. Neck pain can be very bothersome, and it can have a variety of causes. Poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt spinal balance, causing the neck to bend forward to compensate. Stress and emotional tension can cause muscles to tighten and contract, resulting in pain and stiffness. Postural stress or a history of traumas can contribute to chronic neck pain with symptoms extending into the upper back and the arms.
Here are some of the most typical causes of neck pain:
Injury and Accidents: A sudden forced movement of the head or neck in any direction and the resulting “rebound” in the opposite direction is known as whiplash. The sudden “whipping” motion injures the surrounding and supporting tissues of the neck and head. Muscles react by tightening and contracting, creating muscle fatigue, which can result in pain and stiffness. Severe whiplash can also be associated with injury to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash.
Growing Older: Degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease directly affect the spine.
- Osteoarthritis, a common joint disorder, causes progressive deterioration of cartilage. The body reacts by forming bone spurs that affect joint motion.
- Spinal stenosis causes the small nerve passageways in the vertebrae to narrow, compressing and trapping nerve roots. Stenosis may cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain, as well as numbness, when these nerves are unable to function normally.
- Degenerative disc disease can cause reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Over time, a disc may bulge or herniate, causing tingling, numbness, and pain that runs into the arm.
Daily Life: Poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt spinal balance, causing the neck to bend forward to compensate. Stress and emotional tension can cause muscles to tighten and contract, resulting in pain and stiffness. Postural stress can contribute to chronic neck pain with symptoms extending into the upper back and the arms.
There have been multiple studies regarding the safety of Chiropractic which have been shown to have minimal side effects, such as mild soreness. In contrast to the vast side effects of medications and surgery, Chiropractic is extremely safe. It is not only extremely effective in the treatment of neck pain, but one of the most cost effective options, with the least amount of risk. It should be the primary starting point in the evaluation of neck pain.
Overall, the patient assessment post care is a great measure in itself regarding the efficacy of Chiropractic Care for neck pain. Observational studies have consistently found that low back pain patients receiving chiropractic care, which typically includes (but is not restricted to) spinal adjustments, are more satisfied than those receiving medical care (Cherkin, 1989; Carey, 1995; Kane, 1974). Ultimately, Chiropractic care leaves large numbers of patients pleased with their results.
Research Supporting Chiropractic Care
One of the most recent reviews of scientific literature found evidence that patients with chronic neck pain enrolled in clinical trials reported significant improvement following chiropractic spinal manipulation. As part of the literature review, published in the March/April 2007 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, the researchers reviewed nine previously published trials and found “high-quality evidence” that patients with chronic neck pain showed significant pain-level improvements following spinal manipulation. No trial group was reported as having remained unchanged, and all groups showed positive changes up to 12 weeks post-treatment.
During your visit to our office, the doctor of chiropractic will perform a detailed consultation and examination to locate the source of your pain. This will involve a series of questions about your current condition, followed by physical and neurological exams. In the physical exam, your doctor will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, noting movement that causes pain. The doctor will feel your spine, note its curvature and alignment, and feel for muscle spasm. A check of your upper extremity may also be in order. During the neurological exam, the doctor may test your reflexes, muscle strength and sensory testing. If warranted the Doctor may order x-rays and computerized muscle tests. Once all of the information is collected to develop a specific diagnosis, a report of findings will be delivered to you. If you qualify for conservative chiropractic care, recommendations for the appropriate adjustments and therapies will be provided.