Neck Pain

Our neck, known as the cervical spine, includes seven small vertebrae – from the base of the skull to the top of your shoulders. The cervical spine supports the full weight of your head–about 10-12 pounds. While the cervical spine can move your head in nearly every direction, this flexibility makes the neck susceptible to pain and injury.

Neck pain can radiate across your whole upper body, affecting your shoulders, arms, and chest, and can even cause headaches. Living with neck pain can be miserable, making it hard to focus and get through the day.

Typical Causes of Neck Pain:

  • Injury and Accidents: A sudden forced movement of the head or neck in any direction and the resulting “rebound” in the opposite direction is known as whiplash. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash.
  • Osteoarthritis: A common joint disorder that causes progressive deterioration of cartilage. The body reacts by forming bone spurs that affect joint motion.
  • Spinal Stenosis: Causes the small nerve passageways in the vertebrae to narrow, compressing and trapping nerve roots. 
  • Degenerative Disc Disease: This can cause a reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Over time, a disc may bulge or herniate, 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. 
  • “Text-Neck”: caused by poor posture when using a mobile device, where you are hunched over with your head drooping forward, with your shoulders rounded for hours at a time.

(Source: American Chiropractic Association)

What a Doctor of Chiropractic Can Do for You
Your Doctor of Chiropractic may take one or more approaches to alleviate neck pain:

  • Perform physical and neurological exams. 
    • In the physical exam, your doctor will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, noting movement that causes pain. Your doctor will feel your spine, note its curvature and alignment, and feel for muscle spasms. A check of your shoulder area may also be performed. 
    • During the neurological exam, your doctor will test your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread.
  • Perform spinal manipulation or neck adjustments to improve the mobility of the spine and to restore the range of motion; it can also increase the movement of the adjoining muscles.
  • Will develop a personalized program of care that may combine or recommend more than one type of treatment, depending on your personal needs. In addition to manipulation, the treatment plan may include mobilization, massage, rehabilitative exercises, or something else.

Ask your Chiropractor to see if the following Pain Management Techniques are Beneficial for You:

POSTURAL CHANGES

Pay attention to how you hold your head throughout the day, especially when staring at your computer screen or phone. Many people tilt their heads down, which puts extra pressure on the neck muscles and can even lead to a repetitive stress injury called “tech neck.”

To improve your posture and decrease neck pain, make a few simple changes such as:

  • Holding your phone or other device up to eye level instead of bending your neck down
  • Keeping your head in line with the center of your body
  • Rolling your shoulders down and away from your ears

(Source: Aurora Health Care)

CHANGE YOUR SLEEP POSITION

The position you sleep in at night can also affect your neck. Sleeping on your side or your back can put less strain on your neck than sleeping on your stomach. However, when sleeping, the alignment of your thoracic and cervical spine is important for preventing neck pain.

A 2017 study found that lying supine with your dominant hand raised by your forehead was associated with increased neck pain in participants. Side sleeping with a good pillow for proper alignment was identified as enhancing sleep quality.

Certain pillows provide extra neck support while you sleep. Consult your Chiropractor to find the right pillow for you. 

(Source: Healthline)

EXERCISE AND STRETCHING

Keeping the neck moving is important. Begin daily gentle stretching, including neck rolls and shoulder rolls, once the worst of the pain lessens. Gently tilt, bend, and rotate the neck. Warm the neck and back with a heating pad or shower, or bath before doing these exercises. Your Chiropractor may recommend certain exercises and stretches that will work best for you to alleviate neck pain that is particular to your needs. 

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

HOT AND COLD THERAPY

Alternating between heat and ice packs can help reduce swelling and inflammation in many cases. The combination of hot and cold increases the circulation of fresh blood to the area, which may help relieve pain.

Using ice packs or heating pads can help relieve neck pain fast. Ice reduces inflammation, while heat relaxes the stiff neck muscles. For best results, you may alternate the two for about 20 minutes each several times a day.

(Source: MedicalNewsToday & Aurora Health Care)

HYDROTHERAPY

Involving the use of water treatment, hydrotherapy can be as simple as standing under a warm shower with the water directed at the affected area of your neck for 30 to 60 seconds at a time. The warm water increases circulation and relieves muscle tension.

Once your muscles are warm, give yourself a gentle neck massage or ask a partner to do it. Massage can loosen the muscles further. Make sure to direct the massage movements toward your heart to promote proper blood flow.

(Source: Hamidmir Spine Surgeon & Aurora Health Care)

BOOK A MASSAGE

Massage therapy is a part of complementary and integrative medicine that can help reduce muscle tension, pain, and stress. A trained and certified health professional manipulates soft tissues, including muscles, tendons and ligaments, with varying degrees of pressure and movement to increase mobility and reduce pain. A 2009 Study found that massage is safe and may have clinical benefits for treating chronic neck pain. Chiropractic offices often offer massage services; consult your chiropractor to see what services they offer to book a massage.

(Source: PainScale)

EPOSM SALT

When absorbed through the skin, Epsom salt has numerous health benefits. Though not all benefits are clearly documented or proven, they are linked to strong anti-inflammatory properties from magnesium and sulfate. Use Epsom salt to relieve your neck pain by:

  • Preparing a warm water bath
  • Adding 1 or 2 cups of Epsom salt
  • Soaking up to your neck for about 15 to 20 minutes once a day

Note: Epsom salt is not recommended for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart conditions.

(Source: Hamidmir Spine Surgeon)

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Research Shows Healing Power of Chiropractic

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