The standard medical approach to neck pain is often painkillers, muscle relaxers and/or tranquilizers. If the pain doesn't subside, cortisone or other injections may be administered. In some cases, physical therapy, neck pillows, collars or traction may be prescribed. Interestingly enough, these constitute a tacit endorsement of the chiropractic approach of releasing pressure on the nerves, joints, and openings through which the nerves travel. Sometimes surgery is needed, especially in serious trauma or severe disc herniation.
In many cases, chiropractic techniques have saved people from neck or disc surgery. There is even evidence that chiropractic care can reverse osteoarthritis - something previously considered impossible.
Surgery should only be considered as a last resort. Severe torticollis (wry neck), Erb's Palsy, vision problems, hearing problems, and ear, nose, and throat infections have all responded to neck adjustments (even in infancy).
If you carried a bowling ball around for the entire day, but, instead of carrying it closely at your side, you held it a little distance from your body, you'd get tired very fast! It's the same with your head. If it's properly balanced, everything is fine, but if it's held even as well as stress on your neck and lower spine.
Injury and Accidents: 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, which can result 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.
Growing Older: 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 small nerve passageways in the vertebrae to narrow, compressing and trapping nerve roots. Stenosis may cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain, as well as 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 Life: 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.
A neck adjustment is a precise procedure applied to the joints of the neck, usually by hand. A neck adjustment works to improve the mobility of the spine and to restore range of motion; it can also increase the movement of the adjoining muscles. Patients typically notice an improved ability to turn and tilt the head, and a reduction of pain, soreness, and stiffness.
Of course, your chiropractor will develop a program of care that may combine more than one type of treatment, depending on your personal needs. In addition to manipulation, the treatment plan may include mobilization, massage or rehabilitative exercises, or something else.
One of the most recent reviews of scientific literature 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 and found “high-quality evidence” that patients with chronic neck pain showed significant pain-level improvements following a spinal manipulation. No trial group was reported as having remained unchanged, and all groups showed positive changes up to 12 weeks post-treatment.