With 80 percent of all people experiencing neck pain at some point, we could all use a heads up on how to prevent neck strain and injury. For 20 percent to 30 percent of people, neck pain is something that crops up annually. Chiropractic care is a surgery-free, non-invasive treatment for neck pain that improves the quality of life for so many. While it’s true that chiropractic care can be especially beneficial for people suffering from neck pain caused by whiplash and auto accidents, this holistic form of care is useful for any form of neck pain. Take a look at how chiropractic intervention can bring relief.
This Is Why We Get Neck Pain
Neck pain is one of the most common pain types that people experience. For some, the reason why they are having neck problems is obvious because they’ve recently been involved in some type of accident. Other people spend years trying to get to the root of why they are experiencing so much pain and discomfort. Here’s a look at the common causes of neck pain
- Auto Accidents: Sudden force that moves the head and neck in any direction can create whiplash. This condition can create pain and stiffness impacting the muscles, joints and nerve roots.
- Injuries: Any sort of impact or fast movement involving the head, neck or shoulders can create long-term neck pain and stiffness.
- Age: Many age-related disorders like spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis cause both pain and loss of range of motion within the neck.
- Osteoarthritis: A joint disorder that causes the breakdown of cartilage, osteoarthritis can create spurs that make it difficult to move the joints of the neck.
- Daily Movements and Habits: The things that we do throughout the course of daily life can actually have the biggest impact on neck health. For instance, using poor posture when sitting at a work desk for long hours can cause us to “stoop” our necks in a way that creates long-term strain. Even having weak abdominal muscles can cause us to bend our necks forward to compensate for poor spinal balance. Lastly, emotional stress can actually cause us to tense up in ways that contribute to chronic neck pain.
The reality is that most people aren’t thinking of “neck health” as they go about their daily lives. The strain that most of us are putting on our necks is only increasing with the growing usage of mobile devices. In fact, medical experts have coined the term “text neck” to describe the severe strain that occurs when we glance down at our screens. This problem is so prevalent that medical experts are now urging parents to teach their kids proper “screen hygiene” to avoid severe long-term neck problems stemming from screen usage. It’s not just mobile screens that can cause harm to our necks. When starting at a computer screen from a desk, we can harm our necks by not positioning the screen at proper eye height. We should never be straining to look up or down at a screen when doing work at a computer. Ideally, a screen will be directly at eye level to allow us to keep our eyes, ears, and chin straight while we work.
Getting to the Bottom of Your Neck Pain
If you decide to see a chiropractor for neck pain, some deep diagnostic work will be done to try to get to the root of the pain. First, your chiropractor will ask questions regarding your neck pain. Here’s a look at some questions that will be used to narrow down the root cause of your neck pain:
- How long have you had neck pain?
- Do you work at a desk?
- How many hours a day do you look at screens?
- Have you ever been in a car accident?
- Have you ever had a sports injury?
- Does the pain travel to other parts of your body?
- Have you found any techniques for reducing the pain?
Next, your chiropractor will conduct an examination to physically observe the alignment and condition of your neck and spine. During the exam, your chiropractor will note the curvature of your spine while also measuring imbalances, muscle spasms, nerve changes, reflexes, and muscle strength. If necessary, they might recommend imaging tests or diagnostic tools that can provide more insights into the state of your spine and musculoskeletal system.
Getting Your Neck Adjusted
Chiropractors employ a wide variety of exercises, stretches, and therapies for neck pain. A treatment typically includes a manual neck adjustment that is applied to the joints of the neck by hand. The goal of a manual neck adjustment is to restore the range of motion in the neck while relieving pressure. Many people find that adjustments provide pain relief while also increasing mobility when turning and tilting the head. For some patients, there is an immediate reduction in pain and soreness. Adjustments are very often accompanied by full regiments that include massage, exercises and mobilization techniques. Here’s a look at some potential treatments:
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy.
- Manual joint stretching.
- Manual joint resistance.
- Therapeutic massage for muscle relaxation. Massage has been found to be especially effective for providing immediate pain relief for neck and shoulder pain.
- Trigger-point therapy.
- Electrical stimulation.
- Ultrasound therapy.
In recent years, chiropractors have started focusing more on more on addressing trigger points for neck pain. As we learn more about what causes muscle pain and strain, it’s clear that identifying trigger points is beneficial for helping to heal pain resulting from overuse and irritation. Trigger points are sensitive areas within our muscles or fascia (connective tissue). They show up as nodules or knots that nest into our smooth muscles to create tension and pain. In addition to causing pain at the source of the knotted, tender muscle or fascia, trigger points can also cause what is known as referred pain. Referred pain can make treating and diagnosing neck pain difficult because our tissue can actually send pain messages to other parts of the body. This is why therapies that address areas of the body other than the neck may actually be necessary to correct your neck pain. Here are the easiest ways to know if you have a trigger point that is impacting your neck:
- A tiny nodule can be felt in a specific area of your muscle or fascia.
- You feel local tenderness or pain in a specific area. In addition, pain that spreads to other parts of the body may radiate from that point.
- The muscle may twitch when it is touched.
- You’re experiencing decreased range of motion in the immediate area surrounding the trigger point.
Designed specifically to break up the knotted tissue at our “trigger points,” trigger point therapy uses special movements to locate, disrupt and reduce knots and nodules that are causing pain. The other benefit to identifying trigger points is that we can begin to understand the reasons behind why they formed in the first place. In many cases, trigger points form in areas that are placed under repetitive stress or tension due to the ways we move, sit or sleep. Trigger-point therapy is something that can be conducted in a chiropractor’s office. In addition, a chiropractor can instruct you on how to do a variety of trigger-point exercises at home that involve “rolling out” and massaging the area to smooth knotty modules.
How Can I Treat My Neck Pain?
Neck pain is nothing to ignore. If you’re experiencing pain, tension, or soreness in your neck, you can only benefit from getting help before the problem worsens. Neck pain is something that rarely resolves on its own. At Integrative Physical Health, we help our patients develop customized treatments to address neck pain stemming from all causes. Our team will help you get relief from neck pain caused by an accident, injury, repetitive strain, bad posture or a degenerative condition. The first step is getting to the bottom of why your neck hurts. Call our office today to schedule your consultation!