Neck pain is one of the most prevalent problems that I see in the office. It usually comes on through some unfortunate sleeping position, repetitive stress, or a trauma. The pain can be sharp, dull, aching, and possibly radiating. Neck pain can radiate to anything from the arms to the head. I frequently see neck pain that causes headache. I also see neck pain that causes pain in the upper back and into the arms. Neck pain is one of the worst conditions you can get that relates to chiropractic treatment. The problem seems worse because you move the neck with every activity.
Treatment for neck pain is as simple as manipulation of the vertebrae that has moved slightly from its normal position. With the adjustment, that vertebrae can be repositioned and the pain and inflammation will go away in a fairly short period of time. With more serious neck pain conditions there can be neurologic involvement that causes the radiation of the pain to the hands or to the head. These neurologic conditions require time to heal and often need several adjustments to reposition the vertebrae that keeps moving back out of place with the movement of the head and neck.
The cervical disc can also be damaged and an assessment of the degree of damage is necessary to determine the course of treatment. Sometimes, a referral will be required if the disc is damaged to the point where disc material has separated from the original disc. In this case, surgery is the only option. Most disc problems respond to careful manipulation and can heal or “scar over” the bulging area of the disc over time.
I see a lot of people going around “cracking” their own neck. The problem with this action is that the body releases enkephalins (the body’s form of morphine) which feel really good. The result is that cracking the neck happens 20 – 50 times per day causing the ligaments to get stretched, loose, and unstable. Once this bad habit is established, it is extremely difficult to get stopped and over time, arthritic changes will cause further, premature damage to the neck. Another problem is that it rarely moves the segment of the spine that is in need of being moved.
The best course of action when having neck pain is to have a qualified physician evaluate the condition whether a chiropractor or a medical professional and determine the source of the pain and the proper treatment. Your neck is vitally important to your everyday activities, take care of it.