The expression' pain in the neck' was coined because the feeling is something truly annoying and exasperating.
Neck pain, discomfort, and even stiffness are not rare issues that most people experience daily. Around 75 percent of the population in some areas worldwide are said to experience chronic or acute neck pains. In the United States, this neck pain usually comes from the people's lax and sedentary lifestyle, packed with heavy technology-driven routines every day.
A regular day for most people consists mainly of sitting all day and looking at the computer screen and mobile devices, then end the day by looking at television screens or even spend more time with mobile devices and tablets. The experts call this the "mobile syndrome," where people strain their necks due to looking down on their mobile phones. To add to this syndrome, this kind of lifestyle puts a lot of strain on the neck that causes postural issues that can develop into further neck pain.
A person's neck, also known as the cervical spine, starts at the skull base, containing seven small vertebrae. This cervical spine is the primary support of the weight of a person's full head, which is estimated to be around 12 pounds. And though the cervical spine can indeed move in any direction, its flexibility is sometimes the leading cause of its injury or pain.
The susceptibility of the neck to injury is partly because of its biomechanics or the mechanical aspects of a living body. Certain activities affect cervical biomechanics that includes repetitive movement, falls, extended sitting, accidents, or even a blow to the body or the head. It also contains natural causes like the everyday wearing and tearing of the muscles and normal aging.
Neck pain is a real discomfort for a lot of people and has many reasons.
Neck pain and its causes
As stated, the neck area of a person is very susceptible to injury and pain. Some of the main reasons for these include muscle strains from postural deviations, bone spurs caused by osteoarthritis, pinched nerves, and injuries from sports or car accidents. Let's delve deeper and explain how those issues and injuries are developed and acquired over time.
Osteoarthritis - This is a common disorder in the joints that usually causes the cartilage's continuous deterioration in a person's body. In return, the body counteracts by forming spurs in the bones, which affects the joint motion.
Postural Deviations – a person's poor posture often disrupts the balance in a person's spine – this causes an imbalance in the spine, which causes the neck to bend forward. This poor posture contributes to the acute neck pain that people feel, and its symptoms can even extend to the back and the arms. Other causes of postural deviation also include obesity, weak abdomens and core, and stress.
Injuries and accidents – any sudden force or movement directed to a person's neck or even head towards any direction will result in a "rebound" or a whiplash. This motion causes injuries to the body's tissues that support the neck and the head. Because of this motion, the muscles tighten and contract, which leads to muscle fatigue, stiffness, or pain. The most common cause of whiplash is car accidents or sports injuries.
Pinched nerves – pinched nerves occur when surrounding tissues apply too much pressure to the nerves. The force applied to the nerves disrupts its function and causes tingling pain, stress, numbness, or weakness.
How chiropractors treat neck pain
The chiropractic adjustment in the neck or cervical manipulation can help loosen the joints in the neck. By applying the manipulation in the cervical vertebra, the pain caused by pinched nerves or muscle strain and spasms can be reduced.
By the use of their hands, the chiropractors manipulate the neck and realign the vertebrae back. The manipulation applied by chiropractors is a great help and relief, especially to patients experiencing pinched nerves since the pain they are feeling extends towards their shoulders and arm. By repositioning the bones, pressure on the nerves and muscles is reduced.
Neck Pain Diagnosis
Upon visiting a chiropractor, performing exams so the pain can be located is necessary. They will start by asking questions about the current symptoms the person is feeling and remedies a patient has already tried. Some of the most common questions the chiropractors ask are the date the pain started, if the pain radiates on the other parts of the body, and the kind of treatments a patient has tried to make it better or worse.
Besides answering these questions, the doctors will also evaluate a patient's whole spine to determine if the affected area is only on a patient's neck or if the other area of the cervical spine is affected. They will also examine the physical and neurological aspects of the patient.
The physical examination includes the observation of posture, physical condition, and range of motion of a person while simultaneously noting the movements that cause pain to the patient. Aside from these, the chiropractor will also feel the patient's spine for muscle spasms and note its alignment and curvature.
On the other hand, the chiropractor will test a patient's reflexes, nerve changes, pain expanse, and muscle strength during the neurological examination. Sometimes, an x-ray, MRI, or ECG is conducted on the patient to know the nerves' response time. There are also times that the doctor will look at a patient's medical history to connect and understand the leading cause of neck pain.
These exams are done so that the chiropractor can adequately assign the best treatment option for a patient.
Chiropractors rarely include the use of any drugs or surgery in the treatment process. If a patient requires surgery, then the chiropractor will refer them to a spine surgeon. The chiropractor believes that this is a better option and that the neck pain will be better treated if surgery is used.
Chiropractors also treat not only the neck pain but the spine as a whole. This is why some chiropractors also educate their patients about correct nutrition, lifestyle goals, stress management, and other treatment processes for a patient's neck pain.
Kind of chiropractic treatments for the neck pain
A chiropractor might use one technique or a combination of techniques as an integral part of the treatment plan for a patient's neck pain. Here are some of the manipulation techniques that a chiropractor may use for treatment:
Specific Spinal Manipulation – restores movement of the join by using gentle thrusting on it.
Instrument-assisted manipulation – utilizes hand-held instruments that allow a chiropractor to exert force without the need to thrust into a patient's spine.
Flexion-distraction technique – hands-on and gentle manipulation usually involves pumping action onto the intervertebral disc and does not use direct force.
Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques – reduces neck pain and other spinal symptoms.
Trigger point therapy – relieve tight and painful points in a patient's muscles.
Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy – special instruments are used to diagnose and treat tension in the muscles.
Therapeutic massage – helps in the relaxation of tense muscles.
Ultrasound – this treatment sends waves to the muscle tissues of the patients and helps reduce the stiffness in the neck
Interferential electrical stimulation – utilizes a low frequency of electrical current that helps stimulate the neck muscles.
There are also therapeutic exercises that are usually recommended and increase the rates of improvement in the overall range of motion of a person's neck and help prevent neck pain.
These treatments are just some of the most common techniques that chiropractors use for neck pain. Since a person's body, pain tolerance, and symptoms vary, the treatments and procedures used also vary. This will depend on the type of diagnosis the chiropractor has on a patient. If there are any questions about the treatment, it is always better to raise them before starting the actual treatment.
How safe is chiropractic treatment for neck pain?
Chiropractic adjustments help reduce joint restriction and help realign the misalignments of the spine and in the other joints. This reduces inflammation and improves the nervous system's function—the lesser the inflammation, the lesser the pain, and the lesser the discomfort in your body.
Licensed chiropractors can only apply chiropractic adjustments. Practitioners need to have an undergraduate and doctorate in chiropractic practice. Research shows that the patients who suffer from chronic pain in the neck enrolled in chiropractic treatment.
According to studies, patients showed significant pain resistance and level improvements after spine manipulation.
Besides that, chiropractic treatment does not rely on medicine. It mainly focuses on the adjustments – which is a more natural type of therapy and does not have any side effects on a patient's internal organs.
If you're unsure or have never consulted a chiropractor before, give Dr. Cody Capeloto a call. He will patiently explain the various processes to you and assess what you need to help you say goodbye to neck pain once and for all!