Neck pain, while much less prevalent than low back pain, is a common condition which affects many people. It is one of the most common conditions treated in a chiropractic clinic behind low back pain and headaches. 13.9% of adults will have experienced neck pain in the last 3 months.
Pain in the neck can vary substantially:
- Dull ache
- Stiff and sore
- Sharp or shooting (often into the arms and hands)
Neck pain is most often a result of injury to the muscular, skeletal, and/or the nervous system. Injuries that lead to neck pain may stem from auto accidents (whiplash), sport injuries, repetitive work stress, postural, and even sleeping inappropriately. Injuries (auto, sports, etc) often cause damage to the soft tissue structures such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons. When these injuries go untreated they can ultimately lead to degenerative changes to the spine, altered posture and spinal curves, and neurologic compromise. This will lead to long standing pain and dysfunction.
With increased use of technology in our culture we are now more prone to postural distortions (Forward Head Posture and Upper Cross Syndrome) that will affect our normal spinal curves. The curve in the neck normally has a forward curve, however with the increase in technology use, straight necks (military neck) and reversed cervical curves are prevalent.
These altered curves add extra stress and tension on the joints, muscles, ligaments, and nerves of the spine which can lead to many of the common neck symptoms listed above and may also cause:
- Muscle spasms
- Shoulder problems
- Carpal tunnel symptoms (numbness and tingling into arms and hands)
- Decreased range of motion
- Torticollis (wry neck)
Chiropractic care helps to restore proper motion to fixated spinal segments that create irritation to the nerves of the spine. Restoring proper joint motion is imperative during the healing phase after an injury (auto, sports, or work). When normal motion is restored to spinal joints there will be less pain, the body will heal effectively, and scar tissue formation and degenerative changes will be limited.
In a Randomized controlled trial, 183 patients with neck pain were randomly allocated to manual therapy (spinal mobilization), physiotherapy (mainly exercise) or general practitioner care (counseling, education and drugs) in a 52-week study. The clinical outcomes measures showed that manual therapy resulted in faster recovery than physiotherapy and general practitioner care. Moreover, total costs of the manual therapy-treated patients were about one-third of the costs of physiotherapy or general practitioner care.
— Korthals-de Bos et al (2003), British Medical Journal
Coupling chiropractic adjustments with spinal rehabilitation allows us to get optimal results. Spinal rehabilitation procedures may include cervical traction (to restore a normal curve) or exercises to reverse the effects of Upper Cross Syndrome (rounded shoulders and Forward Head Posture) which is a common posture while at a computer. Our goal is to correct your spinal issues and teach you how to keep them corrected for long term benefit. As seen in the following study, chiropractic and exercise can yield the most effective treatment for neck pain.
In a study by the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to test the effectiveness of different approaches for treating neck pain, participants were divided into three groups that received either spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) from a chiropractor (DC), pain medication (over-the-counter pain relievers, narcotics and muscle relaxants) or exercise. After 12 weeks, about 57 percent of those who met with DCs and 48 percent who exercised reported at least a 75 percent reduction in pain, compared to 33 percent of the people in the medication group. After one year, approximately 53 percent of the drug-free groups continued to report at least a 75 percent reduction in pain; compared to just 38 percent pain reduction among those who took medication.
— Bronfort et al. (2012), Annals of Internal Medicine
Please call to schedule an appointment to see how we can help you with your neck pain issues. If you were involved in an auto accident the best course of care is to first rule out any serious injury (fractures, etc.) by being evaluated at the ER, then schedule an appointment with the chiropractor as soon as possible to make sure the injury is treated appropriately.