Neck Conditions in the Senior Population

The main condition that I see in the older population is arthritis that leads to loss of range of motion. The most common sign of this is the inability to turn the neck far enough to see behind you for backing the car out. This becomes dangerous and problematic when in a highly traveled area like a grocery store parking lot. If you are noticing that it takes longer to get backed out and is difficult to see because you can’t turn your neck, it’s time for an assessment.

Often times the arthritic neck can be adjusted in the same way as the non-degenerated neck, but the forces necessary are much less. There is also potential for using lower force instrument adjusting to relieve the fixations and restore the motion desired. I will also put people on a stretching regime to decrease the fascial restrictions between the muscles and increase muscle length. Many arthritis types can be dealt with and respond nicely to chiropractic care.

Children and Neck Conditions

Some of the main conditions that I see in children include torticollis and ear aches.

Torticollis is a condition where the vertebra in the neck slip out of their normal position, impinging on a nerve which causes muscle spasm in the neck. Children with torticollis frequently wake up in the morning in pain, are unable to move their neck and will frequently have their neck turned and their chin down in a locked condition. Ice is the first line of defense followed by an adjustment of the vertebrae. This adjustment is not very pleasant for the child but with movement of the neck, the nerve is allowed to heal and the cycle is stopped.

The other condition I talked about is ear infections. The eustachian tubes in children are more parallel to the horizon and thus don’t drain as well. When the top bone of the spine (atlas) is rotated, this can put pressure on the structures in the upper neck and throat area, blocking the eustachian tube on one side or both sides. Thus, there is a buildup of fluid and potential for bacterial infection behind the ear drum. With an adjustment of the atlas and the base of the skull (occiput) the pressure can be relieved and the ears allowed to drain. The bacterial infection may need antibiotics to clear up, but after it is eradicated, the ears should do better. Keep in mind that once a vertebra is malpositioned, there is a propensity for it to return to the incorrect position.

Infants and neck conditions

The birth process can be fairly traumatic for an infant given the fact that the head is the first body part to present itself to the world and is often used as a lever to coax the baby the rest of the way through the birth canal. Frequently we see infants that are crying unceasingly, have colic, and will only turn their head in one direction. These symptoms are suggestive of neck trauma that should be checked out by a qualified chiropractor.

Infant adjusting is one of the least invasive procedures that I do. The forces needed to make a change in the spine of an infant are so small that often the parents are unsure of then the adjustment actually happened. The change to the baby can be night and day. I had one patient that brought her infant son in to me because she was at her wits end with him. She told me, “fix this,” and handed me her baby. I adjusted him with a very light force neck adjustment and she told me three days later it was like having a new baby. He was happy, slept through the night, and seldom cried. It’s not always that profound of a difference and some babies take more than one adjustment to get the neck corrected, but over the course of a few weeks, the infant can have a life changing experience with chiropractic adjustments.

Text Neck

There is a new condition presenting itself in clinics around the world. It’s called Text Neck and is a reversal of the neck curve from looking down a majority of the day while on a phone or other device. This compresses the discs and causes early loss of disc height. Eventually, arthritic changes will occur and the patient will suffer with painful neck conditions for the remainder of their lives. There is no cure, other than to stop the behavior causing the problem. Restoring the curve is very difficult but it can be done.

Through chiropractic adjustments, the use of support pillows, stretching, and strengthening exercises, the curve can be restored. The best defense is a strong offense where the device is held up in a position more conducive to proper neck curves and head positioning. We will likely see a significant problem with Text Neck in the future as this generation continues to age and the condition continues to advance.