Your neck is the most vulnerable part of your spine. Not only does it support your 10- to 12-pound head, maintain a gentle forward curve, and permit head rotation, but it must also allow the free flow of nerve impulses to the head, face, hands, and the rest of your body. Besides discomfort and annoyance, chronic neck pain is a sign that something is wrong.
Most everyday things can cause neck pain, such as watching TV, using your computer, reading a book, or falling asleep in a chair or on an airplane. The temporary pain that results can resolve on its own, especially when the offending activity is discontinued. When it doesn’t, a more serious underlying problem may be indicated.
A thorough examination can determine if you’re a good candidate for chiropractic care. These tests may involve your ability to turn and bend. Muscle tone of the supporting muscles in the neck may be tested. Diagnostic imaging to reveal the underlying structure of the spine may be requested. These and other tests are designed to identify the cause and location of your neck pain.
The most common cause of neck pain is functional distortions in the spine resulting from vertebral subluxations. These subluxations are seen in cases of reverse cervical curve, whiplash, and joint instability. The body responds by tightening muscles in the neck, “splinting” the joint to protect it from further insult. Chiropractic care can help.
Most of the pain-sensing nerves in the neck are located in the pairs of facet joints on the back side of each vertebra. These smooth, interlocking surfaces allow you to rotate your head and bend your head up and down. If these joints become locked or fixated, neck pain can result. Chiropractic care can help restore proper joint motion.
A more difficult problem to correct is the degenerative changes that result from neglect. Years of uncorrected spinal problems can cause bone spurs, disc thinning, and other forms of spinal decay. These types of problems respond more slowly, and some type of on-going supportive Chiropractic care may be necessary.
Our response to stress is another common cause of neck pain. Deadlines. Rush-hour traffic. Over commitments. Work pressures. Family obligations. Ever meet someone who was a “pain in the neck”? Each of us is susceptible to our body’s unconscious response to people and circumstances. These perceptions can show up as episodes of neck pain. If the weakest link in our bodies is our neck, stress shows up there.