Neck pain is a very common condition, especially in those over the age of 50. Pain of the neck is the second most common reason for one to seek care from a chiropractor. There is an abundance of reasons why neck pain occurs. Some of the most common reasons include poor posture, spinal arthritis, neck sprains, and whiplash. Some less common, but more serious causes of neck pain are infection, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), and rheumatoid arthritis.
Causes of Neck Pain:
The are many reasons for Neck Pain. Poor posture and arthritis are two of the most common.
In today’s world it is difficult to have perfect posture all the time. Between sleeping, using electronics, and driving it is wonder more people suffer form the cascade of painful poor posture can lead to. Over time the affects of poor posture build up causing muscle imbalances which contribute to pain and other progressive symptoms such as arthritis.
Slouching when sitting or standing, leaning weight to one side, tilting head forward to look at a phone or computer, and rounded shoulders are some common examples of poor posture. A competent chiropractor can help coach you thorough some of common pitfalls many people succumb to over the course of there daily lives. Correcting posture and muscle strengthening exercises are some of many ways a chiropractor can help with neck pain.
Neck arthritis is often associated with age. Usually, by the age of 35 or 40 years old subtle signs of arthritis and spinal degeneration can be detected on x-rays. The degree of spinal degeneration can vary significantly between individuals. Genetics and previous injuries could also be reasons one person has more signs of arthritis than another. Tight stiff joints that are worse in the morning are typical signs. Maintaining motion in arthritic joints is the best defense against this disease.
Progressive arthritis can lead to more a more serious conditions such as spinal stenosis. This is when the nerve pathways of the spine become occluded by the bony spurs that develop over time. One indication of this can be a pain, as well as, numbness and tingling “shooting” down the arm to the hand. This condition is often manageable early on with proper treatment such as chiropractic and exercises. When weakness develops it is time for a MRI and surgical consultation. A good inital screen to see if a patient has arthritis is an x-ray.
Look at these two x-rays. One shows proper curvature and good joint spacing, while the other reveals arthritis in the form of bone spurs and thinning intervertebral discs.
Chiropractic along with several other complementary approaches can help alleviate active cases and reduce future episodes of neck pain. Your first defense does not have to be drugs and injections. In fact most insurances want to you attempt a trial of conservative care, such as chiropractic or physical therapy prior to authorizing addition test and/or procedures.
Question: Neck pain is the second most common condition seen in a chiropractic office. Common causes include things such as posture, an injury, and arthritis. The doctors will discuss the onset, symptoms, and pain patterns to determine what assessments can and should be done.
Assess: Postural assessments, palpation, possibly X-rays, and tests of motion and mobility will be done to diagnose where the neck pain is coming from and why.
Plan – Combination of Dry needling, Active Release through jaw, suboccipitals, upper trapezius muscles, manual stretching and mobilization of jaw, Chiropractic adjustment through neck and upper back. Trial of care 2x/week for 2 weeks. Additional self management strategies such as a night guard or stretching may be recommended depending on the case.
Execute- During treatment some progress/change should be noted at each visit. If no progress is being made after 2-3 visits a re-evaluation may be necessary leading to a change in plan. If the treatment is working, visits may extend past 2 weeks to achieve maximum medical improvement.