With today’s turbulent current events, our stress and pain overload are up, and our time and resources are limited for solutions. For solutions many of us head to the internet to search for these solutions. Unfortunately, there is too much information on the information highway, which allows us to become paralyzed with confusion. Here are a few recent studies to help show that your neck pain solution may be cost-effective, simple, and, best of all, conveniently near you.
First Understanding Neck Pain
Your neck, also called the cervical spine, begins at the base of the skull and contains seven small vertebrae. Incredibly, the cervical spine supports your head’s total weight, which is, on average, about 12 pounds. While the cervical spine can move your head in nearly every direction, this flexibility makes the neck susceptible to pain and injury.
The neck’s susceptibility to injury is due in part to biomechanics. Activities and events that affect cervical biomechanics include extended sitting, repetitive movement, accidents, falls and blows to the body or head, normal aging, and everyday wear and tear. As a result, neck pain can be very bothersome, and it can have a variety of causes.
Accidents and Injuries: A sudden forced movement of the head or neck in any direction and the resulting “rebound” in the opposite direction is known as whiplash. The sudden “whipping” motion injures the surrounding and supporting tissues of the neck and head. Muscles react by tightening and contracting, creating muscle fatigue, resulting in pain and stiffness. Severe whiplash can also be associated with injury to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash.
Age: Degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease directly affect the spine.
- Osteoarthritis, a common joint disorder, causes progressive deterioration of cartilage. The body reacts by forming bone spurs that affect joint motion.
- Spinal stenosis causes the tiny nerve passageways in the vertebrae to narrow, and compress, trapping nerve roots. Stenosis may cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain and numbness when these nerves are unable to function normally.
- Degenerative disc disease can cause a reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Over time, a disc may bulge or herniate, causing tingling, numbness, and pain that runs into the arm.
Daily Activities: Poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt spinal balance, causing the neck to bend forward to compensate. Stress and emotional tension can cause muscles to tighten and contract, resulting in pain and stiffness. Postural stress can contribute to chronic neck pain, with symptoms extending into the upper back and the arms.
Recent Studies on Chiropractic
One of the most recent scientific literature reviews found evidence that patients with chronic neck pain enrolled in clinical trials reported significant improvement following chiropractic spinal manipulation.
As part of the literature review published in the March/April 2007 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, the researchers reviewed nine previously published trials. They found “high-quality evidence” that patients with chronic neck pain showed significant pain-level improvements following a spinal manipulation. In addition, no trial group was reported as having remained unchanged, and all groups showed positive changes up to 12 weeks post-treatment.
Another important study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, compared three modes of treatment to determine which was the most effective in improving mobility and reducing neck pain.
The research group comprised of 183 patients between 18 and 70 who had reported neck pain complaints for a minimum two-week period and participated in the study.
Group one received continued routine care from a doctor and was ordered to take pain medication and rest; group two received Chiropractic adjustments. Group three underwent physical therapy, including a supervised exercise regimen.
After seven weeks of treatment, 68.3% of patients who received adjustments reported that they were either “completely recovered” or had significantly improved as a result of treatment — compared with only 50.8% of the physical therapy group and 35.9% of patients under a physician’s care.
The results show that Chiropractic adjustments are more effective than drug therapy in treating neck pain. An additional note was mentioned in the results: the range of motion also improved more among patients in the adjustment and physical therapy groups.
How Chiropractic Can Help You
During your visit, your chiropractor will perform exams to locate the source of your pain and ask questions about your current symptoms and remedies you may have already tried. For example:
- When did the pain start?
- What have you done for your neck pain?
- Does the pain radiate or travel to other parts of your body?
- Does anything reduce the pain or make it worse?
The doctor will also do physical and neurological exams. In the physical exam, your doctor will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, noting movement that causes pain. They will feel your spine, note its curvature and alignment, and feel for muscle spasms. A check of your shoulder area is also in order. During the neurological exam, the doctor will test your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread.
In some instances, the chiropractor might order tests to help diagnose your condition. For example, an x-ray can show narrowed disc space, fractures, bone spurs, or arthritis. A computerized axial tomography scan (a CT or CAT scan) or a magnetic resonance imaging test (an MRI) can show bulging discs and herniations. If nerve damage is suspected, your doctor may order a particular test called electromyography (an EMG) to measure how quickly your nerves respond.
Chiropractors are conservative care doctors; their scope of practice does not include drugs or surgery. However, if your chiropractor diagnoses a condition outside this conservative scope, such as a neck fracture or an indication of an organic disease. In that case, they will refer you to the appropriate medical physician or specialist. In that case, they may also ask for permission to inform your family physician of the care you are receiving to ensure that your chiropractic and medical care are properly coordinated.
Our Team is Ready
Contact our expert team today to schedule this important examination and consultation to assess your condition and answer all your important health questions.
For Your Health,
Dr. Steven M. Gillis