Is it hard to look over your shoulder? Is there a constant throbbing in your neck? Do you notice a “grinding” sound as your turn your head? You probably need a thorough chiropractic examination.
A popular response to neck pain is by taking pain-killers to cover up the problem or by treating its symptoms through the use of muscle relaxeants, massage and hot packs.
But neck pain isn’t caused by a lack of aspirin or drugs.
Biomechanical disorders of the bony structures of the neck related to stress, strains and sprains of the surrounding soft tissues are the most common cause of stiffness, loss of mobility and neck pain. This can occur through a sudden movement, poor posture when using a computer, driving, lifting or contact sports. Injuries such as contusions and tearing of the muscles, ligaments and tendons or even fractures of the vertebrae can occur in severe cases.
In addition, the process of degeneration affects joints and soft tissues causing arthritis, facet syndrome, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the channels for the nerves and spinal cord), and shifting of the spine. Aging of soft tissues plays a very important role in the daily and recurring experience of neck pain.
Neck problems may give rise to a variety of other symptoms in the arms, head, jaw and chest. Chiropractors are trained to determine the cause, assist in its management and advise on prevention.
Your neck (cervical spine) is made up of seven bones, called vertebrae, separated by joints allowing movement. Muscles move the neck whilst ligaments provide stability. Being highly mobile the neck is very susceptible to injury.
The healthy neck is free from pain, strong, with complete movement in all directions. A forward curve is normal, allowing for shock absorption. This curve may be lost with neck trauma, upsetting the normal postural balance of the area, often leading to pain and abnormal function of the neck, arms, chest, head and jaw.
What causes neck injury?
Joints, nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments of the neck may be damaged as a result of neck trauma from a car accident or sporting injury. Years of stress from poor posture, incorrect work habits or faulty body mechanics contribute to neck injury.
Neck injury may lead to nerve irritation, muscle, tendon, ligament and joint damage. Loss of joint mobility is a major cause of nerve irritation (ie. subluxation) and loss of joint nutrition. If left untreated this may give rise to premature degeneration (osteoarthritis)
Irritation to nerves passing from the neck may give rise to;
- headacheneck and shoulder pain
- pain, numbness or pins and needles of the arm chest or face
- jaw pain and dysfunction
- sinus, eye’, ear, throat and respiratory problems
- loss of balances
Clinical results and research over the past 20 years has supported the effectiveness of chiropractic care in the management of spine related problems. If you have neck related problems see your chiropractor.
Neck pain may also be perceived in other parts of the body. This is called “referred pain” and may include:
- Arm, hand and finger pain, stiffness, heaviness, weakness, locking of the joints, swelling, tingling and numbness.
- Poor arm and hand coordination.
- Front and back chest pain, breathing difficulty, asthma like breathing problems.
- Poor or non restorative sleep, insomnia and fatigue.
- Gastrointestinal problems such as loss of appetite, indigestion, gas, bloating, intestinal motility problems, constipation, diarrhoea.
- Bladder problems, such as urinary retention.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t wait. See your chiropractor right away!
- The neck supports about 1/7 of the total body weight or 10-13 pounds! The neck is the most freely moving part of the spine.
- The human spine has seven moving bones in the neck, the same as a flamingo and a giraffe.
- Proper spinal curves permit normal turning and bending.
- The owl, with its “S” shaped neck curve, can turn its head in almost a complete circle.
Neck Pain in Children
A common cause of neck pain in children is the backpack they carry to and from school. A bigger problem than the weight of the bag is the number of times they pick it up during the day and how they carry it. Children should avoid carrying a pack on one shoulder but if they must, they should alternate the shoulder they use. Also, if they plan to carry more than 20 pounds on a regular basis, they should consider backpacks with waist straps to reduce the stress on the lumbar spine.
Chiropractic Approach to Neck Pain
The chiropractic approach to neck pain is to locate its underlying cause. This begins with a complete case history and thorough examination. Special attention is given to the structures and function of the spine, and its affect on the nervous system.
Is the proper spinal curve present? Are the nerve openings between each pair of spinal bones free and clear? Is the head balanced? Are the shoulders level? These and other
considerations are used to create a plan of specific chiropractic adjustments to help improve the motion and position of spinal vertebrae in the neck.
With improved structure and function, neck pain often diminishes or totally disappears without addictive drugs or harmful side effects.
To minimise stress on the neck:
- Posture – stand and sit tall, concentrate on lifting the rib cage, and keep the chin slightly tucked in. If sitting at a work station, keep your shoulders relaxed and make sure that your head is not continually turned to one side. Use document stands and sloping desk surfaces where appropriate to avoid the stress of constantly looking down. Take regular rest breaks.
- Sleeping – do not sleep on your stomach, try a contoured pillow which moulds to support the normal shape of the neck and use a supportive mattress.
- Driving – have regular rest breaks, maintain an upright position with low back and head rest support.
- Flying – use an inflatable neck support when sleeping; put a cushion behind your lower back.
Simple Steps You Can Take to Reduce Neck Pain Now
Sleep on a firm surface, with a pillow thin or thick’ enough so that your neck does not bend forward or backward when lying on your back, or to the right: or left, when lying on your side.
There are two types of exercise that can help relieve: neck pain. They are based on stretching and; muscle-toning. In both cases, you bend your head: on your neck through all six of the normal directions – forward, backward, right and left turns, and, right and left bends. Make the moves as far as possible. Do this at least 20 to 30 times in each direction and finish with the same number of neck rolls. To tone the muscles, go through the samemovements against the resistance of your hand and arm. Instead of pain medication, try both exercises, four times a day. Continue these exercises daily to help prevent recurrences.
“Telephonitis” is a form of repetitive strain injury. A new study has found that 50% of office workers who, use the telephone for at least two hours a day suffer from neck pain and 31% suffer from lower back pain. The main cause is gripping the telephone
between the head and the shoulders. The best treatment is simply to invest in a handsfree headset.
1. Get up and talk to colleagues instead of e-mailing them. Intersperse active and passive tasks through out the day.
2. Position the keyboard/mouse so your elbows are at a degree angle. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Keep the top of the screen at least 3-5 inches below your line of sight.
3. Use chairs that have height, back and tilt adjustments, and take advantage of variable height work surfaces.
Chiropractic treatment does not require medical referral. Workers compensation and motor vehicle accident claimants are covered. Requirements vary in each state. Private health insurers rebate for chiropractic services.
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