Ease pain and discomfort with a whole-body approach
All About Neck Pain
The neck is also called the cervical spine, and it begins at the base of the skull and contains seven small vertebrae (which are the bones in your back). Believe it or not, the cervical spine (your neck) actually holds up and supports the full weight of your head, which is on average about 12 pounds! Although your neck can move your head in just about every direction, this flexibility can make it very easy to incur injury.
The neck’s susceptibility to pain and injury is due in part to its mechanics. There are all kinds of things you could do that would affect the mechanics of your neck. Some of these include sitting down for long periods of time, constant repetitive movements, taking a hit to the body or head, accidents, falling down, and even normal aging and regular day to day living (wear and tear). Unfortunately neck pain is often very troublesome for a lot of people and affects the way they live their lives. Neck pain can have lots of different causes that we’ll go over next.
Some fairly common causes of neck pain
- Aging: Degenerative disorders like spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, and degenerative disc disease take a toll on the spine.
- Sudden Injury: A sudden forced motion of your head or neck in any direction and the resulting “recoil” in the reverse direction is called “whiplash”. This “whipping” motion can really hurt the surrounding and supportive tissues of the neck and head. Muscles react by tightening and contracting. This can create muscle fatigue, which can result in pain and stiffness. When you have really bad whiplash, it can also be associated with injury to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. As you may have already guessed, auto accidents are the most common cause of whiplash. If you’ve experienced this type of injury, be sure to call us for a consultation on what can be done to help you through it!
- Car Accidents: Auto accident injuries can be significantly damaging to your neck. Under normal circumstances your head weighs about 12 pounds. When you’re driving a car at high speeds and come to a sudden stop, the force of that accident could amount to hundreds or thousands of pounds of pressure. This is a lot more than your body is supposed to endure. It’s always a good idea to see a doctor right away to get a proper look at any damage that may have occurred due to an auto accident.
- Poor Posture: Over time poor posture may have a significantly adverse effect on your neck. The average adult human head can weigh as much as 12 pounds. Depending on how you carry yourself, how you stand and how you sit, you may be creating as much as 40 pounds of pressure on your neck. This can cause pressing on your cervical discs, resulting in neck pain and organ problems. It can also compress the heart leading, leading to COPD.
- One common joint disorder, osteoarthritis, actually causes a gradual deterioration of cartilage. What happens is that the body starts reacting by creating bone spurs that affect your joint motion.
- Now, spinal stenosis causes the small nerve passageways in the vertebrae to get smaller and narrow. This will actually compress the nerve roots and sort of trap them. Stenosis could cause neck, arm, and shoulder pain. It can also cause you to feel a sort of numbness when these nerves aren’t able to function normally.
- You may have heard of degenerative disc disease. What this does is that it can cause reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. As time goes by, a disc can bulge or herniate. This tends to bring about a tingling feeling, numbness and even a pain that runs into your arms and legs.
- Your regular daily life activity: As you’ve probably heard time and time again, bad posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt spinal balance. This can cause the neck to bend forward in attempt to compensate. In addition to that, stress and emotional tension can make your muscles tighten and contract. This will often cause stiffness and pain. Stress from poor posture can contribute to chronic neck pain. The symptoms can even go into your upper back and arms
See our Medical Team for Neck Pain
When you visit, the medical team will conduct various examinations to pinpoint and locate the source of your pain. We’ll ask you questions about your symptoms. You should let the the team know if there are any other remedies that you’ve already attempted. Some of the questions you might get could be:
- To your best recollection, when did this pain start?
- Have you already tried anything to remedy this neck pain?
- Does your neck pain travel to other parts of your body?
- Have you noticed anything making the pain feel better or worse?
Our medical team might also do some physical and neurological examinations with you. In a typical physical exam, one of our professionals could observe your posture, range of motion and overall physical condition. We might note any movement that is causing you pain. Then we could also feel your spine and note the curves and alignment. From there we would also pay attention to any muscle spasm. We would also check your shoulder area. Of course while conducting a neurological exam we would test things like reflexes and muscle strength.
There are even some cases where a chiropractor might order some tests to help diagnose your condition. An x-ray can help the chiropractor and our medical professionals see if there’s a narrowed disc space, any fractures, bone spurs, or even arthritis. If nerve damage is suspected, the chiropractor might even order something called an “NCV” which helps measure how quickly your nerves respond. Although these tests are available for use, they aren’t always necessary. However it’s important to know that our medical team is ready to take whatever action necessary to handle your condition and ensure you receive proper treatment.
The medical team may call for a neck adjustment (also sometimes called a “cervical manipulation” in more formal settings). It’s a procedure of precision that is used on the joints of your neck. The chiropractor will usually do this by hand. Neck adjustments aim to improve the motion and mobility of your spine. This procedure can also help increase movement of the muscles connected to this area. The average patient will usually notice an improvement in their ability to tilt their head as well as a reduction of pain and stiffness. When you come in to see the medical team, you’ll receive your own unique program to address the symptoms you have. That means the doctor may not always call for a neck adjustment, but there’s also the possibility that he’ll provide a neck adjustment along with some other treatments. Some of the other treatments that often accompany neck adjustments include massage or therapeutic exercise.