If you’ve experienced minor discomfort, stiffness or lingering pain in your neck, you’re not alone. The cervical spine (your neck!) is the most mobile part of your spine, yet its high degree of flexibility leaves it vulnerable to injury, overuse, improper posture or awkward placement of the head.
Often, neck pain isn’t serious and can be improved with postural awareness, manual therapy, targeted stretches and strength exercises.
Severe neck pain should be treated quickly, and with the help of a doctor. The goal is to relieve pain as quickly as possible, while strengthening the muscles around your spinal cord, so you’re at less risk of injury.
Types & Causes of Neck Pain
There are many reasons you may experience discomfort in your neck. These are a few of the major triggers:
Muscle Tightness or Strain
Tightness in the neck or upper back (which can cause or result from neck pain) often results from spending too much time in an awkward posture, like slumping forward at a computer or hunched over a steering wheel.
We also tend to carry our purses & suitcases on one side of the body, as well as cradle the phone between one ear and shoulder. These routines can create tight musculature on one side of the neck, and weak, overstretched muscles on the other.
Sleeping in an uncomfortable position or with pillow that is too firm or soft can cause cervical discomfort. Using the upper body to lift weights without proper warm-up or stretching afterward will eventually build tension in the shoulders and neck, putting us more at risk for strain of muscles or tendons, or minor sprain of your neck ligaments.
Stiff neck, muscle spasms and shoulder tension typically result from these repetitive postures or movements. Sometimes we call the tightness a “crick (or kink) in the neck.”
Injury / Whiplash
Sprains are injuries to your ligaments, which are like strong bands of connective tissue holding your bones together. If we overload, overstretch or suddenly apply a ton of pressure to the joints (by falling, twisting sharply, lifting a heavy weight, etc), we may sprain the neck. Sprains may display themselves as swelling, pain or immobility. They can be mild, moderate or severe.
Whiplash happens when the muscles in your neck are strained as a result of a forceful, rapid back-and-forth motion, like may occur during a car accident. The abrupt motion can cause small tears in your ligaments and tendons, and you may experience stiffness, headaches, or a feeling of pins and needles down your shoulders and arms within a few days.
If you fall or have been in an accident and your neck hurts, please seek medical attention immediately.
Slipped or Herniated Disc
Slipped discs (often referred to ask prolapsed or herniated discs) are the result of continual stress or a quick, harsh pressure that causes the disc that sits between the vertebrae to slide out of place and, often, land on a nerve ending. Slipped discs may cause pain, numbness or pins and needles down the arms.
When the nerves surrounding your spine are irritated, it’s important to treat the underlying conditions before the symptoms may be resolved. Herniated discs are often the result of much wear and tear, or, medically speaking, disc degeneration.
Bulging discs, on the other hand, are often asymptomatic unless they hit an adjacent nerve root. An untreated bulging disc may turn into a herniated disc, but with proper care, the transition can be avoided.
Neck pain may manifest in a variety of different ways. Of course, dull or sharp aching in the neck, but here are some others:
- Sharp Pain
- Weakness in Shoulders, Upper Body
- Burning or Tingling Sensations
- Dull, Aching, Pain
- Tightness in Trapezius Muscle
- Limited Rotation (hard to look side to side)
- Jaw Tightness
- Poor Posture (chin juts forward)
- Inability to touch chin to chest
- Inability to move arms
If your symptoms persist for more than just a few days, you should see a doctor to explore treatment. The symptoms may reflect larger medical conditions, and they’re certainly not comfortable.
Treatment for Neck Pain
Since the causes and contributing factors to neck pain are often unique, treatment hinges on the diagnosis. In some cases, physical medicine and active rehabilitation may be appropriate to treat dull aches, tightness, or muscle weakness. Chiropractic adjustments have also proven effective in reducing the contributing factors.
Our team is focused on alleviating your pain and quickly identifying the root cause of the issue. We strongly believe in patient-centered medical care and will work with you to identify lifestyle changes that will serve you well into the future.
Our goal is to offer relief now while preventing future reoccurrences of pain.
Ways to Prevent Neck Pain
A proactive lifestyle can eliminate the most common causes of neck pain that we see in our medical office every day. We recommend that you do the following to minimize your risk of injury and discomfort:
- Exercise on a Regular Basis
- Make Stretching a Part of Your Daily Routine
- Know Your Limits – Do Not Overexert Yourself
- Don’t Sit Down All Day or Stay Still for Too Long
- Practice Chin Tucks, Lengthening the Back of Your Neck
- Avoid Cradling Phone Between Ear & Shoulder
By taking the time to take care of your body you will be able to strengthen your lower back. This prevents day-to-day injuries and helps you heal in the event of an accident. Contact a member of our staff today if you would like to learn more.
Chiropractic Treatment for Neck Pain
The growing emphasis on cost-effective, non-invasive treatment within the health care community has created a widespread demand for chiropractic treatment and other modalities that reduce pain without the need for medication and surgery. The federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research suggests that low back pain sufferers first approach treatment with the most conservative route. Spinal manipulation is a safe, and gentle treatment for neck pain that reduces pain and improves mobility.
Aligned Modern Health brings together the best of traditional therapies and evidenced-based medicine using the latest science and technology available. Working as industry leaders, our doctors are top-rated and proud to provide unparalleled health care in noninvasive treatments for musculoskeletal problems that plague everyone from athletes and expectant moms to office workers.
Our Chiropractic services for neck pain include: Chiropractic Manipulation, Soft Tissue Therapies, and Physical Rehabilitation. With an in-house integrative medical team, your treatment for neck pain can also be complimented by our experts in Acupuncture, Functional Medicine & Nutrition, and Massage Therapy.
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