Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain

A chiropractor treats various conditions influencing the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. Consider a chiropractor or a doctor treating any muscle, bone, joint pain or dysfunction. The following are the most common causes of a chiropractic adjustment:

  • Backache in the lower back.
  • Neck ache.
  • Muscle ache.
  • Headaches.

Furthermore, chiropractors can treat musculoskeletal pain anywhere on the body, including the head and jaws, shoulders, elbows and wrists, hips as well as pelvis, knees, and ankles.

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What does a chiropractor do?

Chiropractors treat aches and pains, as well as creaks and strains. If you have a musculoskeletal system problem, a chiropractor can provide alternative methods of treatment that do not involve medication use.

A chiropractor may provide the following treatments:

  • Adjustments are used to realign joints to reduce pain and improve motion range gently.
  • Soft-tissue therapy: This technique is used to relax tight muscles, relieve spasms, and release tension in the interconnected tissues surrounding each muscle (fascia).
  • Stretches and exercises are used to regain strength, stability, and mobility.
  • Joint bracing/taping (Kinesio taping): To aid in healing sprained joints or muscles.
  • Referrals to integrative medicine experts: For diet and nutrition advice to reduce inflammation and encourage healthy eating for weight management.

Causes of neck pain

  • Accidents and injuries: Whiplash is defined as sudden forced head movements or neck in just about any direction, as well as the resulting “rebound” in the opposite direction. The whipping motion injures the neck and head’s surrounding and supporting tissues. Muscles respond by tightening and contracting, causing muscle fatigue, pain, and stiffness. Severe whiplash can also cause damage to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. The primary reason for whiplash is a car accident.
  • Aging: Degenerative disorders like osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease all directly impact the spine.
  • Osteoarthritis, a common disorder, causes cartilage to deteriorate over time. The body responds by forming bone spurs, which impair joint motion.
  • Spinal stenosis causes the tiny vertebral nerve passageways to narrow, compressing and trapping nerve roots. When these nerves fail to function normally, they can cause pain in the neck, shoulders, and arms and numbness.
  • Degenerative disc disease may cause intervertebral disc elasticity and height to decrease. A disc can bulge or herniate over time, causing tingling, numbness, and pain that radiates into the arm.
  • Everyday life: Obesity and weak abdominal muscles frequently disrupt spinal balance, causing the neck to curve forward to compensate. Muscles can tighten and contract due to stress and emotional tension, leading to pain and stiffness. Postural stress can aggravate chronic neck pain, causing symptoms to spread to the upper arms and back.
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Gentle chiropractic techniques for neck pain

Suppose the patient cannot relax, dislikes the cavitation/cracking sensation or sound, or has other concerns. In that case, a delicate chiropractic adjustment may be used instead of the more traditional techniques. One of these methods is a sluggish (low-velocity) procedure conducted within the silent range of joint motion.

  • ¬†Cervical mobilization: The patient is usually lying on their back, relaxed, while the chiropractor manually moves the vertebrae in the neck from left to right, alternating between both the side-to-side motion and just a figure 8 movement, decides to apply at different degrees of moving the head forward, backward, to the side, and in rotation. This is a non-thrust stretch to reduce fixations or areas of restricted motion between the cervical spinal segments. An oscillatory motion with the palms is also frequently used during cervical spine mobilization.
  • Cervical manual traction is performed with the patient lying face up, sitting, or, less commonly, prone (lying face down, on the stomach). The chiropractor gently pulls on the neck, stretching the cervical spine and frequently varying the angle between flexion (forward) and extension (backward) based on comfort and searching for the best tip to reduce the tightness. This technique is frequently combined with movements, trying to switch between the two and performing both simultaneously.
  • Cervical “drop” techniques: The patient has to be either prone (lying on the stomach) or side-lying on a unique table where the head drop-piece is lifted into a “set” or locked position. The chiropractor then locations their hand and finger over the affected spinal segment. A medium to high velocity, low amplitude thrust, or non-thrust gradually raising downward pressure is applied until the table’s drop section/headpiece releases and drops a short distance. The goal is to reduce cervical vertebra fixation or restricted motion with the help of a unique table. There is usually no rotation or twisting of the neck, as is common in traditional chiropractic adjustments, and the standard “crack” may or may not occur.¬†

How does a chiropractor diagnose neck pain?

Because other areas of the neck (cervical), mid back (thoracic), and low back (lumbar) may be affected, your chiropractor will examine your entire spine. Chiropractors treat the “whole person,” not just your particular symptoms, in addition to the spine as a whole. In addition to treating your neck pain, they may start educating you on nutrition, stress management, and lifestyle goals.

The chiropractor will perform a thorough examination to diagnose the single cause of your neck pain before deciding which approach to try for your pain.

They will assess any areas of restricted movement, your walking style, overall posture, and spinal alignment. These actions can assist your chiropractor in understanding your body mechanics.

In addition to the physical exam, you’ll discuss your medical history with the chiropractor, and they may order imaging tests (such as an x-ray or an MRI) to help diagnose the exact cause of your neck pain.

All of these steps in the diagnostic process will provide your chiropractor with more information about your neck pain, allowing your chiropractor to create a treatment plan that is unique to you.

Your chiropractor will also rule out a surgical neck pain condition; if they believe your neck pain would’ve been better treated by surgery, you will be referred to a spine surgeon.

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Chiropractic treatments for neck pain

As part of your neck pain treatment plan, your chiropractor may apply several spinal manipulation, manual therapy, and other techniques. The following are a few spinal manipulation techniques that your chiropractor may employ.

  • Flexion-distraction therapy is a gentle, hands-on spinal manipulation that uses a pumping action on the intervertebral disc rather than direct force.
  • Instrument-assisted manipulation employs a hand-held instrument to apply force without thrusting into the spine.
  • A gentle thrusting technique, particularly spinal manipulation, helps restore joint movement.

Your chiropractor may also employ manual therapies to cure your neck pain.

  • Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy uses specialized instruments to identify and treat muscle tension.
  • Manual joint stretching, as well as tension techniques, can help relieve neck pain and other symptoms.
  • Tense muscles can be relieved by therapeutic massage.
  • Trigger point therapy is employed to treat tight, painful muscles.

Other therapies may also be used to alleviate the symptoms of neck pain.

  • Inferential electrical stimulation stimulates neck muscles with a low-frequency electrical current.
  • Ultrasound waves are sent into your muscle tissues to relieve stiffness and pain in your neck.
  • Therapeutic exercises may also be suggested, as they help improve the range of motion in your neck and stop neck pain from worsening.

The treatments listed above are only examples of potential chiropractic treatments for neck pain; your diagnosis will determine your specific treatment plan. Your chiropractor should explain your treatment options to you so that you understand what will happen.