Neck pain is one of the most common reasons patients seek chiropractic care. The causes of neck discomfort can vary. In some, the cause may be unknown, or it can be due to an accumulation of years of bad ergonomics and poor posture. In others, it may be due to trauma such as a whiplash event from a rear end automobile collision. This article will discuss neck pain and offer a natural, safe, gentle option for neck pain relief.
There are three areas of the human spine. The neck area, called the cervical spine; the mid back, called the thoracic spine and the lower back called the lumbar spine. Of the three the cervical spine exhibits the most movement. As a result, it is commonly an area that can become painful.
Some of the reasons the neck area can give discomfort are misalignment of the bones, pinched nerves, degenerative discs, disc herniation’s and whiplash.
A misalignment of the cervical spinal bones will irritate the joints of that part of the spine. Those joints are called the facet joints. The facet joints can have improper alignment or may become fixated and locked up.
A pinched nerve may occur in the neck area. When this happens, it is due to a misalignment of the cervical spinal bones, which are called vertebrae. If the vertebrae are improperly aligned there can be an impingement of the nerve exiting the cervical spine. This can result in a very painful condition known as a “pinched nerve.”
Degenerative discs are usually a condition in the neck, that occurs over a longer period of time. The disks of the cervical spine are a form of cartilaginous material that are sandwiched between the cervical vertebrae above and below. The disks can wear down and create a “bone on bone” situation. This is a form of wear and tear arthritis.
A disc herniation of the cervical spine is when the rear portion of the cervical intervertebral disc bulges or protrudes and compresses the spinal cord, the spinal nerves or both.
A whiplash injury occurs when there is a rear end automobile collision. The passengers head and neck “whip” forward and then backwards. This causes tearing of supporting muscles and tendons (called a strain) and ligaments (called a sprain). This type of injury can lead to any of the above-mentioned conditions.
Since all of these conditions causing neck pain are of a mechanical origin a reasonable path of treatment is through chiropractic care. Chiropractors are healthcare practitioners that are trained to evaluate, diagnose and treat physical, mechanical problems resulting in neck pain.
There are a number of methods chiropractors utilize to bring patients neck pain relief.
Manipulation, sometimes called the chiropractic adjustment, is a safe way to bring about realignment of abnormally positioned cervical vertebrae. It is very safe and typically brings a good deal of neck pain relief to the patient. Another treatment approach is to use mobilization. Mobilization is a slow gentle stretching of areas that is also designed to induce proper cervical vertebrae alignment. Of course, chiropractors use other modalities to bring about healing such as electrical muscle stimulation, the use of cold packs and firm contact to tight muscles called trigger point therapy. At times, a doctor of chiropractic will co-treat the patient with another practitioner, such as when pharmacologic therapy should be rendered.
Most patients who undergo chiropractic care appreciate this natural, holistic form of health care to gain neck pain relief.