Lower back pain is more common than neck pain, but there are still millions who suffer from neck pain at one time or another. Many times there is no identifiable reason for the neck pain, but it is usually related to something general, like a muscle strain or sprained tendons or ligaments. These types of injury are commonly caused by sudden force, like whiplash, that might be experienced in a car accident. Sleeping in the wrong position, or carrying something heavy can also result in neck pain. A pinched nerve can also cause pain.
In many cases, neck pain will heal in time—usually only a matter of days. Ice and/or heat, over the counter pain medications are usually all that is necessary. However, if the pain doesn’t get any better after a few days, or if there is tingling or numbness in the hands or wrists, or if your neck pain started after a car accident, it may be time to see a chiropractor.
The chiropractor will conduct an examination and ask questions about your symptoms. He or she will check to see how well you move your neck, and look for tenderness, tingling, or numbness in your hands or arms. To diagnose your condition, the chiropractor may order texts, such as x-ray, CAT scan or MRI. If your chiropractor discovers a condition, such as a neck fracture, they will refer you to an appropriate specialist. To ensure that your medical and chiropractic care are coordinated, the chiropractor may ask your permission to contact your family physician.
Chiropractic therapy can restore normal motion in your neck. Some examples of gentle techniques include the following:
- Cervical manual traction. With the patient sitting or lying face up, the chiropractor gently pulls the neck to stretch the cervical spine, varying the angle forward and backward. This is done based on comfort and finding the angle that reduces tightness. This is very often used in combination with mobilization.
- Cervical mobilization. With the patient lying on their back, the chiropractor manually moves the vertabrae in the neck by smoothly moving the head backward, forward, to the side, and in rotation. The goal is to reduce motion restriction between spinal segments.
- Drop techniques. In this therapy, a special drop table, with sections that drop away about an inch, is used. The patient is lying face up or on the side. The drop-piece for the head is lifted into a locked position. The chiropractor will then place his hand on the area to be adjusted, applying pressure until the drop section releases and drops a short distance. There is usually no twisting or rotation as is usually utilized in traditional adjustments.
There are many other techniques that a chiropractor can employ to alleviate neck pain, and it is common for more than one method to be used. Depending upon your needs, your chiropractor will develop a program that might combine manipulation, massage, mobilization, exercises, or other methods.
Contact your chiropractor to determine how he or she can help alleviate your pain.