When to See a Chiropractor for Neck Pain
Neck pain is a common complaint worldwide. Specifically in the United States, the neck endures a lot of strain from our primarily sedentary and technology laden lifestyles. Sitting and looking at our computers, tablets, phones, and televisions all day leads to the far too common signs of poor posture: slouched shoulders and chin that juts excessively forward. Ouch! Additionally, there are a lot of other lifestyle and genetic factors that can influence neck pain that we will dive into today.
Regardless of the cause, the bottom line is that neck pain can put a major damper on your quality of life.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
The neck, also known as the cervical spine, is a complex system. It consists of seven vertebrae (bones) that start at the skill and end at the top of the shoulder blades. These bones provide protection to the upper spinal cord, support the weight of your head, and provide dynamic mobility that allows you to move your head and see your surroundings in coordination with the rest of your body. The neck requires the correct balance of stability and mobility for optimal daily function. The neck can easily get out of balance, leading to symptoms and underlying conditions that specifically affect the connective tissue or joints of the neck. These include:
- Cervical osteoarthritis- wear and tear of the neck joints
- Herniated discs
- Poor posture- leading to muscle strain and spine misalignment
- Injury from overuse, falls, or a car accident
- Biomechanically poor movement patterns that strain the neck and lead to profuse imbalances
- Pinched nerve roots or direct spinal cord compression
- Secondary Symptoms of Neck Pain
The most common symptoms an individual suffering from neck pain will report is a generalized feeling of achiness and stiffness in the neck itself. However, depending on the severity or other underlying issues, neck pain can also be accompanied by other secondary symptoms, such as the following:
- Mild to severe neck pain
- Muscle spasms or tension in the neck, shoulders, or mid-back
- Difficulty moving the neck within it’s normal range of motion
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Numbness, tingling, or shooting pain into the head, shoulders, and arms
- Weakness in the neck or arms; or difficulty with grip strength
- Inability to participate in normal daily activities or sports
- Loss of quality of life
- Onset of poor balance or difficulty coordinating movement
If you experience onset or exacerbation of any neurological symptoms (the bottom five secondary symptoms just discussed)- get in touch with a trusted healthcare professional immediately for medical advice. These symptoms can be caused by very serious underlying issues related to spinal cord compression and nerve damage.
Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain
When considering your options for getting treatment for neck pain, chiropractic care should definitely be one of your top considerations. There are many great potential benefits that getting guidance for a spine professional, like a chiropractor, can provide. Other traditional treatment options include physical therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture. Of these, chiropractic care is one of the most robust well-rounded and non-invasive options. More invasive recommendations you may encounter at your doctor’s office include injections, medication, and surgery.
Getting a Diagnosis
Neck pain is a multifaceted issue that can be well managed under the care of a chiropractor. To determine if chiropractic care is right for your neck pain, it’s always best to schedule a consultation to get started. First, they will do an in-depth evaluation of your neck and entire spine. They will look at your range of motion, strength, spine alignment, sensation, movement, and overall function. Chiropractors are experts in looking at your neck dysfunction holistically. This is important since underlying issues throughout the spine and body may be contributing to your neck pain and impeding your long term recovery process. With a deep understanding of your unique needs, they can then make personalized recommendations for starting a meaningful treatment program.
Additionally, they can order imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, if they suspect or want to rule out more serious underlying issues. If necessary, they can also refer you to an orthopedic doctor that can address issues that may require more invasive treatment like surgery. Otherwise, you can expect to schedule regular appointments with your chiropractor with the goal of making gradual progress towards a pain free (or at least better managed) life.
Would I Benefit from Chiropractic Care?
Receiving chiropractic treatment for your neck pain has a lot of great potential benefits. Firstly, chiropractors are the top experts in spine health. They understand the unique nuances that are required for an optimized and well-functioning spine. They also understand how factors such as our diet, exercise, weight, stress levels, and other seemingly unrelated injuries or illnesses can affect the neck. Thus, addressing all these issues simultaneously and holistically allows for true sustainable recovery. This means less down time for you and a lower risk of future recurring issues.
Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) is a specialized branch of chiropractic care that takes these expert ideals one step further. With a systematic and research based approach, CBP providers approach your neck pain issues by first addressing spine misalignment. When spine misalignment is present, a common issue that most of us are unaware of, it compromises nerve health and energy, which affects our body’s basic ability to function on every level. When the root issue spine alignment is addressed first, you most often expect to recover more quickly and with better lasting results. Did you know the entire team of chiropractors at Advanced Spine and Posture in Las Vegas, NV is CBP certified?
What Does the Research Say?
Several high quality studies published over the last decade and beyond have illustrated that chiropractic care is one of the top options for getting acute or chronic low back pain and neck pain relief. It has been shown consistently that clients who underwent chiropractic care for their spine pain reported a reduction in pain (particularly with spine manipulation), improvement in daily function, and overall satisfaction with their treatment. Additionally, studies such as one found in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2012, have illustrated the benefits of non-invasive low intervention care. For example, it was illustrated that both short term and long term results for patients undergoing chiropractic care and an exercise program for neck pain were significantly better than those just received medication for pain relief.
Types of Treatment Available
Your chiropractor will work with you to determine what treatment combination is right for you. The ultimate goal is to restore spine mobility, alignment, posture, and movement mechanics to gradually reduce pain and optimize your overall neck function. Here are some of the options you may encounter that you can discuss with your provider.
Spinal manipulation is what chiropractor’s are known for- and for good reason. They can use tools and their expert hands to restore mobility to any restricted joints in the neck or throughout the spine. This often provides immediate relief as range of motion is restored. Plus, it helps pave the way for long term recovery when combined with education and other treatments listed below.
Tight muscles and other restricted connective tissue can limit normal neck function. It can also impede the efficacy of any chiropractic adjustments. Thus, getting tension relief first with manual therapy techniques can also be beneficial. This can be accomplished with tools, postures, massage therapy, and more.
Therapeutic exercise is often a logical next step after you have made progress with spine alignment and joint mobility. A personally designed exercise program can help retain and encourage better joint range of motion and balance. This may include posture specific exercises for improving overall spine alignment with daily activities and biomechanical training. Attention to how you move will minimize the chance of the spine returning to its previous limitations.
In addition to massage, sometimes something is needed to take the edge off the pain. This gives short term quick relief while also making it easier to tolerate other treatment options listed above. A few of the possibilities for pain management include temperature therapy (ice packs and heating pads), electrical stimulations (also known as TENs), ultrasound, and traction.
Getting Started with Treatment
Now that you understand the many great benefits of seeking chiropractic care for your neck pain, particularly from a CBP provider- it’s time to get started. See if a CBP practitioner or clinic is available in your area and get in touch with their office as soon as possible. If not, check out local reviews and ask around to see who is recommended as a trusted provider. If you live near Las Vegas, NV, the entire team at Advanced Spine and Posture is CBP certified and ready to address your neck health concerns. Get in touch with their office today to see what they can do for you.