Millions of Americans suffer from neck pain every year. Neck pain can come in many different forms: a kink in the neck, whiplash injury, stiffness, popping or cracking when you turn your head. Sometimes the pain starts in the neck but moves up the back of the head. If you have experienced any of these symptoms you can relate! For many, neck pain is very irritating and affects the quality of life. You can experience problems with concentration, sleep issues, problems with sports, reading or basic things as housework.
Causes of Neck Pain
There are many causes of neck pain. Some of the common ones I have seen in my years of practice include:
Forward Head Posture: One of the most common causes of neck pain is the Forward Head Posture (FHP). This problem is caused when the head is too far in front of the shoulders or the rest of the body. It has been estimated that as much as 98% of people have some form of FHP. This problem has worsened since the increased use of the personal computer. Those who spend hours a day, many days a week in front of a computer tends to lean forward while working. Day after day, this position causes the neck to misalign.
Abnormal Spinal Curves: Viewing the spine from the side reveals an “S” shape curve. The neck (cervical spine) should have a forward curve of 42 degrees, based on research. This curve provides a shock absorption, flexibility and protection for the joints and discs. Losing the neck curve sets up a premature wear and tear of the joints. Also, the lose of curve can stretch and irritate the spinal cord causing a host of problems!
Proper analysis of spinal curves requires precise x-rays. Doctors of Chiropractic trained in advanced biomechanics perform complex geometrical analysis of the spine with precise measurements to determine the severity of the misalignments.
Spinal Misalignment: Your spinal bones can become misaligned as a group (globally) or as an individual segment (segmentally). Even one spinal bone misaligned is enough to cause sever nerve irritation and pain. Unfortunately, medication will not realign vertebra, only a Doctor of Chiropractic is qualified to gently realign the spinal bones, taking pressure off of the irritated nerves.
Trauma: A major cause of neck pain is various types of trauma. Auto accidents, slips and falls, sports injury and even the birth process can cause damage to the neck and its structures. Traumatized bones, joints, discs, ligaments and muscles produce inflammation and result in pain. If you have suffered trauma of any type to your neck, a check up by a Doctor of Chiropractic is essential.
Flexibility Problems: It is quite common to find chronic neck pain caused by a lack of flexibility. Lifestyle habits such as a being sedentary, too much time in front of a computer or even old improperly treated injuries can result in tight, inflexible muscles and ligaments that are prone to injury. Stretching the neck muscles to restore normal motion can bring great results, yet not all stretching programs are safe! It is wise to consult a Doctor of Chiropractic to ensure that your stretches are safe and effective. Even better, have them design a custom program for your health needs.
Herniated Disc: Disc herniations, while quite painful, do not necessarily require surgery. Only the most severe cases that have not responded to chiropractic care or physical therapy should consider surgery. Most surgeons will require multiple rounds of physical therapy before they consider surgery. The chiropractic approach to treating disc herniations it to restore the normal curve in the neck, reducing the accompanying muscles spasms and pain.
It is typical for most people to treat their neck pain with such over the counter medications as Tylenol, Aleve or Motrin. Sometimes they provide temporary relief. Unfortunately, the problem usually returns. At this point, many will call their primary healthcare provider for their help. The typical treatment prescribed is stronger medication such as a narcotic pain reliever and muscle relaxers. Again, many times this approach fails because medications only attempt to mask the pain: they don’t fix the cause. An analogy would be cutting the wires to a fire alarm that is going off: you wouldn’t hear the alarm any longer, so you think all is well! Yet the building is burning down around you!
While medications have a place in health care, using them for musculoskeletal problems (back and neck pain, headaches, etc.) are usually ineffective and only mask the pain. Instead of covering up your pain with pills, a better choice is chiropractic care with rehabilitation. Not all chiropractors do the same thing: it’s important to pick the one that has the training to treat neck problems.
At North County Pain Relief Center, we get results!. Our methods are effective at getting you out of pain, correcting misalignments, improving posture and restoring your normal range of motion. Many of our patients have been to numerous medical doctors, tried other therapists and even other chiropractors and weren’t getting any results until they came to us.
What to do next
If you are experiencing neck pain, call our office today at (314) 731-4201 to schedule a consultation and examination. We have the special training in diagnosing and treating neck pain: in most cases we can help you.
Neck Injury in a Car Accident
Damage to your neck can result in pain in many areas of your body. Your neck is vulnerable to injury in a collision. If you have been in an accident it is very import to make an appointment with your chiropractor. Neck injury can cause symptoms in a variety of areas and you may find it difficult to determine the actual cause of the pain. Masking the pain with painkillers is never a good choice. Because we treat so many people who have been in car accidents, our staff is very familiar with the types of injuries you may have suffered and can help you determine and treat the underlying root of pain.
Neck Injuries and Symptoms
After a collision your neck and back can become very tense. The tension can cause pain along the arms and shoulders, though the pain may take several weeks or even months after the collision to develop. Since the spinal column runs through the bones in the neck if the discs or ligaments or the neck are injured, the pain of the injury may be felt in different areas of the body. Shoulder pain or pain in the arms may be traced back to damage done to the neck. Pain may begin quickly following the accident or may take a while to surface.
The muscles in your neck may be damaged in an accident possibly resulting in a strain or sprain. A strain means that the muscles or tendons have been stretched too far or are torn. A tear can occur in the muscle, where the muscle and tendon meet, or in the tendon. A sprain means the ligaments that anchor to the bone on each side of a joint have torn or stretched. If you are suffering a strain you may feel aches and stiffness in your neck, along your upper arms and shoulders, or in your upper back.
You may find it difficult to look over your shoulder if you are experiencing neck pain. It may feel as though your neck is “grinding” when you turn your head side to side, or you may be experiencing a throbbing sensation. You may notice the pain is worse if you have your head in one position for a long time, like when you are driving or sitting at work. You may lose mobility of the neck and find it more difficult to look over your shoulders. Your neck may feel sore and tight, or your muscles may spasm. Issues in your neck can also cause headaches.
You may have a pinched nerve, nerve root compression, symptoms include shooting pain that moves down one arm into the hand and fingers. You may also have injured the sac that provides cushion to the joints, called the bursa; it can become painful and swollen after injuries. This is known as bursitis. We can help treat this by adjusting and manipulating the body to relieve pain, decrease inflammation and restore function of the nervous system. Treatment can promote healing and prevent the further aggravation of the condition.
One of the most common injuries to the neck is whiplash, an injury that occurs when the head is jerked quickly back and forward, resulting in strained soft tissues. We have a page dedicated to Whiplash, check it out.
We want to help you restore neck function and reduce the pain in your neck. Any time you are in an accident, even if you don’t feel hurt you should visit your chiropractor. Dr. Elsey, a Hazelwood chiropractor, can help you identify the damage beneath the surface and begin treating issues before they escalate to long term or chronic pain. Having medical records after an accident is important as well, they can connect any pain or damage that you have suffered directly to the collision.
If you are suffering neck pain and live in or around Saint Louis, Missouri, or if you or a loved one have been in an accident contact our office today, (314) 731-4201.