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Chiropractic Care and Neck Pain

Neck pain is the third most common type of pain that Americans suffer from. According to the survey conducted by the National Institute of Health Statistics (NIHS), 15% of Americans suffer from neck pain. Wherein sufferers believe that neck pain is a natural aspect of aging, many Tacoma chiropractors see spinal misalignment as a common factor.

Woman with neck pain. Chiropractor Tacoma

Neck pain is not a dangerous disease but it can cause debilitation that may prevent one from doing his or her tasks. And with the sedentary lifestyle of most Americans, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) noted that one in two individuals may feel neck pain at some point in their lives.

Understanding Neck Pain

Neck pain is not a serious condition and can easily be relieved. The neck is comprised of vertebral bones, muscles, and ligaments. And any inflammation, abnormality, or even injury of these parts can cause neck pain. People who suffer from neck pain suffer from different signs and symptoms. These include worsening pain on the affected area, tightness, and spasms of neck muscles, headache, and decreased mobility of the head.

The Neck Anatomy

The neck is a well-engineered structure. It is not only made up of bones, but also muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. The neck spine, called cervical spine, is a delicate structure that houses the spinal cord—the one responsible for sending messages and impulses to the brain.

The neck begins at the base of the skull and is connected to seven vertebral segments (C1 to C7) which connect to the thoracic spine also called the upper back. The smallest cervical vertebra nearest the skull is C1 and it gets bigger as they go down the thoracic spine. This is to ensure that the cervical vertebra can support the head.

Cervical vertebrae are comprised of cylindrical shaped bones that lie in front of the spinal cord. They are also stacked on top of the other to create a continuous column of neck bones. The cervical spine is highly at risk for developing painful conditions due to the stressed placed on it—even by just doing your simple daily activities. Below are the functions of the cervical vertebrae:

•   Supports the head and provides movement: the neck vertebra supports the head. It can hold an average of 10 to 13 pounds. Aside from providing support, it also allows the head to bend sideways, forward and backward.

•   Protects the spinal cord: The cervical vertebrae protect the spinal cord. A bundle of nerves from the brain extends to the lower back so that they can be connected to other parts of the body. It goes through the cervical spine and down to the thoracic spine for protection.

•   Facilitate blood flow to the brain: The cervical spine consists of openings called vertical foramens that provide passage of arteries that supply blood to the brain. The vertebral foramen is a unique feature of the cervical spine.

Facts about Neck Pain

Xray neck pain chiropractic Tacoma

Neck pain is one of the most common types of pain that affects the American population. In the data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), neck pain attributes to 15.1% of sufferers in the country.

Neck pain does not affect a particular demographic but data suggests that women are more likely to experience neck pain than men. Demographic studies also indicate that adults who are over the age of 65 are also more likely to suffer from neck pain due to osteoporosis. Below are other interesting facts that you should know about neck pain.

  • 70% of the American population will likely experience neck pain at least once in their lives.
  • There is only a 1% chance that your neck pain is due to a serious medical condition.
  • One in ten adults is suffering from neck pain in the United States.
  • There were 13.2 million hospital visits in 2006 due to neck pain.
  • 95% of neck pain diagnoses are for patients between the age of 18 and 64.

Neck pain may not be a serious condition, but they can cause a lot of problems for the sufferers. Early management is crucial to prevent problems from worsening. Thus, if the severity of the pain is not waning, consult your primary care provider or better yet your chiropractor.

Causes of Neck Pain

Working out neck pain Chiropractor near me

The neck is a flexible structure that supports the head. While it is a strong structure, it is vulnerable to different conditions that may cause neck pain. Neck pain occurs for various reasons and below are the reasons why.

  • Muscle strain: Overusing the neck muscle can cause neck pain. This means that hunching over the computer, reading in bed or even gritting your teeth can cause muscle strain. Muscle strain can also arise from poor posture, sleeping in a bad position, making jerking movements and working at a desk without changing positions.
  • Spinal Misalignment: This involves vertebrae that are out of position and thus creates abnormal stresses on the surrounding joints, soft tissues, and nerves. This can come from poor posture, excessive head flexion, trauma, and emotional stress.
  • Injury: Neck pain can also be attributed to injuries. For instance, whiplash which is caused by the sudden tugging or pulling or jerking of the head. This type of injury forces the ligaments and muscles to move beyond their normal range. This can lead to damage to the vertebrae if the impact is really strong. People who are involved in vehicular accidents are often prone to whiplash. Injuries may also cause the vertebrae disc to protrude which can add pressure on the nerve roots.
  • Worn out joints: The joints on the neck vertebrae can also wear down especially as we age. Also called osteoarthritis, this condition causes the cartilage between the vertebrae to break down. The cartilage serves as the cushion and once this condition sets in, bone spurs on the vertebrae can occur.
  • Nerve compression: Bone spurs and herniated disks on the neck vertebrae can cause neck pain as it can compress the nerve branching of the spinal cord. This produces a very painful sensation on the neck.
  • Forward neck posture: This is becoming so commonplace that we have an article specifically for how chiropractic can help with forward neck posture here.
  • Diseases: Neck pain may be a symptom of different kinds of diseases. For instance, people who suffer from meningitis experience inflammation in the brain and spinal cord which, in turn, causes stiff neck. This condition is fatal and should be dealt with immediately. Other diseases that can cause neck pain are as follows:
    • Rheumatoid arthritis: This condition is characterized by swelling of the joints. Bone spurs may also develop that can cause debilitating neck pain.
    • Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a condition wherein the bones become weakened. Thus, tiny fractures may occur. While this condition can happen in both hands and knees, the neck can also be affected.
    • Fibromyalgia: This condition is characterized by having widespread muscle pain—all throughout the body.
Woman work out neck pain chiropractor University Place
  • Spinal stenosis: Spinal stenosis is a condition when the spinal column narrows creating pressure on both the nerve roots and spinal cord. This is also often associated with arthritis and other conditions.

Tacoma Chiropractic Care

There are many ways to manage neck pain and one of them is to use chiropractic techniques. Chiropractic care is a type of non-surgical and non-invasive treatment given to patients to reduce the severity of their neck pain. It is a conservative approach to treating neck pain.

And as a matter of fact, according to the Palmer Center of Chiropractic Research, manual therapy together with exercise was more effective in treating neck pain than any other noninvasive intervention.ii To date, there are many Tacoma chiropractors that you can approach to help you relieve your neck pain. Let’s learn about chiropractic care for neck pain.

Chiropractic Diagnosis of Neck Pain

Your entire spine will be evaluated when you visit your Tacoma chiropractor because other parts of the spine, such as the lumbar (lower back) and thoracic (upper back), might also be affected by your neck pain. You will need to undergo a set of examinations to diagnose the specific reasons why you are suffering before the chiropractor will decide on the best approach to treat your neck pain.

The areas of restricted movement will be determined, including your spinal alignment and posture as these things can contribute to the progression of your neck pain.

Moreover, your chiropractor will go through your medical history and may require you to take imaging tests like Surface EMG or X-ray to know the exact cause of the neck pain. These will help your chiropractor to create a treatment plan customized to your needs.

Your chiropractor will also educate you regarding stress management, lifestyle changes, and nutrition in treating your neck pain along with the Tacoma chiropractic treatment.

Chiropractic Treatments

Once your chiropractor has determined the exact reason of your neck pain, he or she will proceed with the treatment. There are several chiropractic treatment options that are available to neck pain sufferers. All these treatment options require spinal manipulation to correct the positioning of your vertebrae. Your chiropractor may use any of these treatments or a combination of treatments to treat your neck pain.

  • Spinal Adjustment: This particular treatment involves the patient lying down while the chiropractor is manually moving the vertebrae gently from different directions to adjust the spinal segments.
  • Flexion and traction technique: This chiropractic technique involves manipulation of the cervical spine by applying a pumping action on the disc instead of direct force.
Family chiropractor Tacoma
  • Cervical drop technique: While the patient is lying on his side on a special table with a head drop piece, the chiropractor places his or her hands over the spinal segment that requires adjustment. Pressure is applied to the vertebrae to reduce the restricted motion and fixation of the cervical spine. This technique is often instrument-assisted wherein the chiropractor uses an instrument to apply gentle force to the spine.
  • Therapeutic massage: A therapeutic massage is used to relax tense muscle thus lessening the stiffness of the neck muscles. This chiropractic treatment is often done together with other techniques.
  • Trigger point therapy: It is used to relieve the tightness and painful areas on the neck muscle. However, unlike therapeutic massage, the trigger point therapy looks for specific points in the muscle where the pain and stiffness has likely originated.

Aside from these chiropractic techniques, your chiropractor may also recommend you to engage in therapeutic exercises to improve the range of motion that your neck can do. Neck exercises can also halt the progression of your neck pain

Conclusion

Neck pains may not be serious, but they can cause a lot of discomfort. While there are many treatment options that deal and manage neck pain, chiropractic care remains one of the most effective methods. If your doctor hasn’t mentioned chiropractic care as a treatment option or you have been trying to manage it on your own don’t wait any longer. Call Discover Life Chiropractic in Tacoma today and see if chiropractic care can get you back to your old self again.

References:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/neck-pain-a-troubleshooting-guide-to-help-you-find-relief http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/neck-pain/basics/definition/con-20028772 http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/neck-pain/Pages/Introduction.aspx https://www.coca.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Neck-Pain.pdf

https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/neck-pain/chiropractic-care-neck-pain

i AAPM Facts and Figures on Pain

ii Chiropractic Evidence Summary

Benefits of Chiropractic Care in Forward-Neck Posture

You. Yes…. You!

There is a chance that you are tilting your neck forward right now while holding your phone/laptop and reading this blog post.

There is also a chance that you just realized it and you tried to straighten your neck. Good!

You are not the only one. We live in a revolutionized and digital world where technological devices like phones and laptops play a very important role in our daily lives. With them, people have created social media empires and established businesses that have totally changed the way we carry out conventional activities. Advanced studies have even revealed that over 50% of people would carry their phones first in cases of fire outbreaks.

Yet, despite its wide usage, there has been a growing concern about the effects associated with this practice, as research has continued to give evidence of the effects that it brings.

A person spends 2 to 4 hours every day on an average reading or texting with their phones, and this figure is even higher for youths. This invariably means that they are going to spend at least two hours tilting their neck forward to look at their screens, leading to 800- 1400 hours of cervical spine stress every year.

What is Forward Head Posture?

           As the name implies, Forward Head Posture (FHP) is the steady loss of normal posture due to the forward bending of the head, thereby increasing the pressure on the shoulders and the neck. Not only does it cause a lot of discomfort and pain, but it creates tissue damage over time. In the past, FHP wasn’t really a thing. The absence of the normal neck curve wasn’t a serious physical problem except if the patient has spondylosis.

But things may have gotten out of hand.

The muscles of the neck and back are forced to work extra hard to keep your head in a forward position. This creates stiffness and severe pain over time.

Several effects come with FHP. Some include:

  • Wear and tear of the tissues: When the head tilts forward, there is an increased weight on the shoulder by some pounds. This loss of the normal curve of the cervical spine causes wear and tear that results in stresses that can cause degeneration and could ultimately require surgery.

To be able to eliminate or reduce stress on the spine, the individual must maintain good posture, which is defined as the alignment of the ears with the shoulders. Proper posture also enhances the level of serotonin and testosterone and increases feelings of balance and power. You can guess that poor posture does the exact opposite, as it affects every human activity by negatively affecting the endocrine system.

  • Excessive pressure on the neck: Research has shown that every 15 degrees of forward-head tilting results in increased pressure on the neck and shoulders, adding an extra weight of about 27 pounds. So, if the average angle a person tilts when looking down at a phone is about 60 degrees, imagine the excessive weight that the neck bears every time it bends. This will ultimately lead to wear and tear of the joints, and eventually, spinal degeneration.  

Other symptoms of Forward-Head Posture (FHP) include:

  • Headaches
  • Fibromyalgia: a rheumatic condition that consists of muscular pain, stiffness, and tenderness at specific places
  • TMJ pain: TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, and it is otherwise referred to as the jaw joint. When TMJ is not properly placed or aligned, it can harm other joints and muscles.  
  • Depression
  • Tingling: This usually occurs in the upper limb
  • Fatigue
  • Negative behavioral habits amongst children
  • Aches and pain
  • Asthma: a respiratory condition that is characterized by difficulty in breathing.

And finally,

  • Hindered blood flow (which is considered the most dangerous)

How does proper posture aid the flow of blood?

Research has continuously provided evidence of how maintaining the right neck curve can increase the flow of blood. Looking at some of the strongest structures in the world, a major characteristic among them is that they consist of arcs. These arcs act as the force which sustains these structures (they include bridges and doorways) and their designs are the factors that determine its longevity. The same is true with the human body.

The structure of the human body consists of arcs, and the spine is considered the most important arc of them all. This spine is made up of several arcs that make it stronger and last longer. Whenever there is a loss in the normal spinal curves, it exposes the discs and bones to unwarranted degeneration. It also affects a person’s physical appearance. This happens over a long period, mostly due to improper posture.

The dangerous part about it is that loss of the spinal curves is linked to a reduction in vertebral artery hemodynamics. This means that there is a reduction in the amount of blood that flows to the brain and certain parts of the body. People with loss of neck curve usually experience disability, nerve tension, and a poor quality of life in general. The pressure also creates the foundation for the formation of bone spur and osteoarthritis as the neck muscles and tissues tend to work much harder to make up for the inadequacy.

So maybe the question on your mind is… How can I prevent, eliminate or reduce forward neck posture and its effects?

There are basically three ways:

  • Chiropractic care: This is one of the most powerful ways of treating FHP and back pain, as experienced medical practitioners continuously recommend it based on previous results. Chiropractors are considered the most effective medical practitioners when it comes to spine alignment and posture issues.

Chiropractors are mostly concerned with the musculoskeletal system.

That is, they deal with the pain that results from the misalignment of muscles, bones, and joints, or when the tendons and ligaments are not properly placed.

It doesn’t matter the kind of job a person does. Anybody can be affected by a slight disturbance in his/her musculoskeletal system.

  • Maintaining the right head posture: This is the most obvious one. By keeping the head properly aligned, you prevent or eliminate unnecessary stresses on the neck and shoulder. You can start by raising your phone a little bit when used in subsequent times.
  • Developing the right posture habits: This is extremely important. Maintaining proper posture aligns the bones and joints, prevents stress on the neck curve, reduces abnormal wear and tear of the discs and bones, and saves energy. A major sign of poor posture is back pain, and there are a lot of factors that can contribute to it such as obesity, pregnancy, stress, weak postural muscles, and even high heeled shoes.


To start, you must continuously be aware of your posture whether you are sitting, standing or lying down. When sitting, place both feet firmly on the floor, and avoid crossing your legs. When standing, relax your arms and pull your shoulders back with your knees slightly bent. When lying down, sleep with your back well stretched on the right mattress.

Okay. So how does it work?

Brilliant question.

Chiropractic care bases its system on the fact that a person’s total health is associated with the alignment of the spinal cord, which is a major component of the central nervous system (CNS), the system that processes pain.

The human body is made up in such a way that all parts are closely knitted together and connected. A misalignment in any part of the body can create several hazardous effects in other parts of the body, even parts that are not related.  The job of a chiropractor is to help patients to properly align their bodies through several spinal adjustments and allow the free movement of muscles and bones. When there is no restriction or obstruction in the musculoskeletal system, the pain reduces.

Chiropractors tend to solve the underlying problem rather than just touching the surface by healing only the symptoms. They pay attention to the nature of the spine by continuously observing the structure and motion of the spine.

What does a typical Tacoma chiropractic care appointment look like?

The beautiful thing about chiropractic care approach is that it influences the patient’s entire body. Chiropractors are specially trained to use certain non-invasive techniques to observe the body of a patient and the areas that need attention.

During the appointment, the patient may go through an examination, receive treatments that can align the body parts, or receive medical advice on the various lifestyle modifications that can be made to alleviate the pain (these may include posture, diet, etc.).

To enhance the effects of the chiropractic treatments, home or rehabilitative exercises may also be prescribed for the patient.

What are the benefits of chiropractic care?

The chiropractic care industry is consistently flourishing due to the several benefits associated with it. They include the following:

  • Chiropractic care is a holistic approach: Unlike some medical approaches that tend to solve only the symptoms or the affected areas, chiropractic care is a holistic approach. It not only aligns the spine and other areas properly, but it also helps the patient to evaluate their lifestyle choices, such as their diet, sleep, levels of physical activity, stress, etc. This way, they tend to influence the patient’s health way beyond the pain.
  • It is medicine-free: This is one of the reasons why chiropractic care is widely used amongst people. Most patients tend to familiarize themselves with drugs, whether they are prescribed or gotten over the counter. But chiropractic care provides drug-free pain relief, as it focuses more on sustaining a healthy body than treating the symptoms. Although there are various procedures that chiropractors use on their patients, none of it is as dangerous as surgery and only a few patients complain of side effects.
  • It is not dangerous: This is another top reason why chiropractic care is very popular. Despite the several techniques chiropractors use, none of them are as dangerous as undergoing surgery. In most cases, the patients get treated during a single appointment and can head back home in time for dinner!
  • It improves the patient’s posture: After all, what is the need for aligning the spine if the patient constantly maintains a wrong posture? Chiropractic care ensures that you maintain a proper posture, no matter the form you are in.
  • It promotes ergonomic ideas: In today’s world, we have been indoctrinated in the sitting culture. We sit at desks in our offices for long periods. Kids sit in class for long hours as well. We sit at every slightest opportunity and mostly with our heads tilted down towards our phones, and this is extremely harmful to our spinal health. Chiropractic care promotes ergonomic ideas by encouraging people to make small changes in their homes or offices to help them reduce the stresses on their neck curves.
  • Enhances mental health: It comes as no surprise that chiropractic care enhances the mental state of a person. Although much research hasn’t been done to link the effects chiropractic care has on mental health, it is assumed that since chiropractic care enhances the nervous system, it enhances the brain.

This approach focuses more on helping a person to achieve a balanced and healthier life, which includes eating the right foods and exercising often, which are key factors in maintaining mental health and clarity.

  • Flexible treatment plans: The beautiful thing about chiropractic care is that its treatments can be customized to suit the patient’s needs, unlike traditional medical procedures. If the patient is disabled or has a painful body part, the chiropractor knows exactly what to do in such cases. They create chiropractic adjustments plans that are unique to each patient
  • They are not just for FHP and back pains: The chiropractic care industry has gone beyond merely reducing neck and back pains. They now proffer effective solutions to health conditions such as ear infections, menstrual disorders, gastrointestinal infections, infertility problems, etc.
  • Chiropractic care saves you money: Healthcare is a luxury to a lot of people these days. With the uncertainty of the economy, who doesn’t want to save money? If you go through the normal medical procedure, you may end up going for several appointments, buying so many drugs and paying off a lot of bills. But by opting for chiropractic care, you tend to have fewer appointments, thereby spending way less than you are supposed to. Plus, you will be able to get a lot more information from a chiropractor than you normally would. Sounds like a fantastic idea!
  • It improves the quality (and quantity) of your sleep: There is a growing number of people experiencing sleeping disorders in our time than ever before. By reducing pain and aiding relaxation, chiropractic care has shown to help people sleep better by enhancing the quality, and invariably, the quantity of their sleep.
  • It’s the best pain treatment you’ll ever find: Research has shown that chiropractic care has proven to be more effective in relieving pain than conventional methods. Plus, it comes at low risk, as patients have no fear of invasive procedures or allergies.

What could be better than this? Contact us today to set up an appointment and start correcting Forward Head Posture.