You know the old saying, “It's a pain in the neck”? Well, when you live with neck pain long enough, you know how this can take its toll on you. Neck pain can make even the simplest of movements involving the neck, head, arms, shoulders, and back excruciatingly difficult. It can lead to headaches and difficulty using your body with everyday activities. Immobility resulting from neck pain can cause the muscles to become strained and weak, the discs and joints to degenerate over time, radiating pain and a host of other chronic problems.
Understanding the root of your neck pain is a necessary step towards acquiring the treatment that will be most effective in both the short and long-term healing and recovery processes. The following article looks at the causes of neck pain and explains how Chiropractic care can be a useful alternative and first-line approach compared to other more conventional and sometimes invasive treatments.
NECK PAIN ANATOMY & CAUSES
Although the neck is a relatively small area of the body, it is comprised of some complicated structures which do the important job of holding your head up. The small size of the vertebrae of the neck allows for a lot of mobility, but can also make the neck more vulnerable to injury and pain. Some of the causes of neck pain include:
- Trauma, such as whiplash (auto accidents, work injury, slips & falls)
- Sleeping Positions
- Poor Posture
- Abnormalities in the Bone and Joint Structures (congenital anomalies, surgeries)
- Joint Issues (Degenerative Arthritis)
- Muscle Strains/Pulls & Ligament Sprains
- Technology use (computer, cell phone, tablet)
- Prolonged & Repetitive Postures & Movements
Most of these issues are either caused by, or impact, the alignment of the joints of the spine. When proper alignment is disrupted, the joints cannot function properly, ultimately effecting the surround soft tissues (ligaments and muscles). The muscles and ligaments will become tight or go into spasm as your body’s own natural protective mechanism to guard against further unwanted bad joint movement. This tightness will further pull on the joints of the spine irritating the local nerves causes further tension and other systemic problems. Because every nerve in the body has its root in the spinal column, issues that have their source at the neck can have a major impact throughout every other system.
Many people let spinal problems go uncorrected. Often times people do not feel these types of problems progressing or they ignore the early symptoms. They hope that if they wait long enough the pain will simply go away. In some cases, the symptoms do lessen and even go way, but the symptoms will return in a short period of time and often worse than they were originally. The misalignments and bad movement patterns that caused the problem are still there and will continue to worsen. Over time, that area will continually be aggravated, and the pain-symptom cycle returns and continues. If the problem is not corrected it can become much more serious. Some patients let things go to the point where surgery may be the only option.
CONVENTIONAL VS. HOLISTIC TREATMENTS
Most commonly, people try to deal with their neck pain using prescription or over-the-counter medications (NSAIDs). This may help to relieve the symptoms in the short-term by reducing inflammation so you don’t feel the pain. But, not only are you dealing with side effects of these medications, the underlying issues go unaddressed.
Massage Therapy is also a popular approach. Massage can help to relieve some muscle tightness, but it does not address the joint dysfunction and the root issues of the problem remain.
Chiropractic care is a holistic approach that addresses the structural causes with the joints, muscles, ligaments and nerves that lead to the majority neck pain. The pain cycle is effectively “broken” and the natural healing process of the body can begin. Following a thorough chiropractic assessment aimed at ruling out other issues and finding the exact source of the problem, a personalized recovery plan is developed. Gentle adjustments to the spine can bring instant relief and restore long term health to the neck and the entire body.