Our 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.
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.
Here are some of the most typical causes of neck pain:
- Injury and Accidents
- 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
- Spinal stenosis causes the small nerve passageways in the vertebrae to narrow, compressing and trapping nerve roots.
- Degenerative disc disease can cause reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Over time, a disc may bulge or herniation, 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.
Chiropractic Care of Neck Pain
During your visit we will perform exams to locate the source of your pain and will ask you questions about your current symptoms and remedies you may have already tried. For example:
- When did the pain start?
- What have you done for your neck pain?
- Does the pain radiate or travel to other parts of your body?
- Does anything reduce the pain or make it worse?
We will also do physical and neurological exams. In the physical exam, we will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, movement that causes pain, we will feel your spine, note its curvature and alignment, and feel for muscle spasm. A check of your shoulder area is also in order. During the neurological exam, we will test your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread.
In some instances, we might order tests to help diagnose your condition. An x-ray can show narrowed disc space, fractures, bone spurs, or arthritis. A computerized axial tomography scan (a CT or CAT scan) or a magnetic resonance imaging test (an MRI) can show bulging discs and herniations. If nerve damage is suspected, we may order a special test called electromyography (an EMG) to measure how quickly your nerves respond.
A neck adjustment (also known as cervical manipulation) is a precise procedure applied to the joints of the neck, usually by hand. A neck adjustment works to improve the mobility of the spine and to restore range of motion; it can also increase movement of the adjoining muscles. Patients typically notice an improved ability to turn and tilt the head, and a reduction of pain, soreness, and stiffness.
If you experience any Neck Pain, visit us and we will develop a program of care that may combine more than one type of treatment, depending on your personal needs. The treatment plan may also include mobilization, massage or rehabilitative exercises, or something else.