The neck is a complex network of nerves, joints, bones, and muscles. Not only does the neck allow the head to move, but it also provides support to the head and protects the nerves that carry signals from the brain to different parts of the body.
A sufferer of neck pain may be unable to perform the most basic of head movements. Neck pain can affect neck mobility and flexibility. It can vary from a dull ache to a sharp, burning/stabbing pain.
Neck pain is more common than you think. It is estimated that around 80% of people will experience neck pain at some point in their lives. Neck pain can affect quality of life.
Do not ignore neck pain. Unaddressed neck pain can travel along connected nerve pathways to other areas such as the hands, shoulders and arms. Sharp neck pain can even affect your entire upper body.
In some cases, chronic neck pain can indicate an underlying problem. If neck pain is accompanied by fever, fatigue/inexplicable drowsiness, frequent headaches, unexplained weight loss, coordination issues, and nausea or vomiting, consult your doctor as soon as you can.
Leading causes of neck pain include:
- Muscle strains- Overusing neck muscles during repetitive movements are one of the most common causes of muscle strains. Several hours hunched over your computer, looking at a smartphone screen for extended periods or something as simple as gritting your teeth or reading in bed can strain your muscles
- Diseases- Certain health illnesses such as meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer can cause excruciating neck pain
- Injury- Whiplash injury from an accident can cause pain and soreness that affects the nerves, ligaments, joints and vertebral joints and discs
- Age-related degeneration- Neck joints tend to wear down with age. Elderly adults with osteoarthritis- a condition characterized by the deterioration of the cartilage at the end of bones and spinal stenosis-a condition that occurs when the bony openings within the spine start narrowing are at high risk for neck pain
- Nerve compression- A herniated disc or bone spurs in the vertebrae of the neck can press on the nerve roots causing neck pain
- Physical condition and poor posture- Overweight people are at higher risk for neck pain. Poor posture, uneven weight distribution and weak abdominal muscles can also increase the person’s risk of developing neck pain.
- Abnormal growths- In rare cases, abnormal growths such as bone spurs, cysts and tumors can cause neck pain
Some signs of neck pain include:
- Stiff neck or a decreased range of motion
- Sharp stabbing pain localized to a particular area
- Pain that gets worse when you perform any task that involves moving, twisting or extending your cervical spine
- Pain that radiates to your arms, trunk, head and/or shoulders. If you have a pinched nerve, you may feel weakness, numbness or a tingling sensation in one of your arms or hands
Your doctor may perform a physical examination to diagnose neck pain. They may ask you various questions about your medical history, any previous neck injuries and your job-if it involves lifting heavy loads. They may also perform additional examinations to check your muscle strength and reflexes.
Your doctor may also order an MRI, X-ray, CT scans, bone scans, EMG, myelography to get to the root cause of the problem. Once your doctor arrives at an accurate diagnosis, they will determine the best course of action.
How can Chiropractic Care Help Relieve Neck Pain?
Many people with neck pain turn to chiropractic care for pain relief. Chiropractors for neck pain in Santa Rosa use hands-on spinal manipulation-which involves applying gentle pressure to a joint using their hands or a small handheld device.
Chiropractors use chiropractic neck manipulations or cervical manipulations to loosen up stiff joints in the cervical vertebrae of the neck. This helps reduce pain caused by stiff joints, muscle spasms and pinched nerves.
Sometimes neck pain isn’t localized and can radiate throughout the shoulder and down the arm. A chiropractor can help relieve shoulder and arm pain resulting from neck pain and its other symptoms.
Your chiropractor can help you manage inflammation caused by neck pain. They may recommend stretching exercises that you can do at home to ease your pain. Your chiropractor will also suggest simple muscle strengthening exercises such as chin tucks.
Stress can cause or contribute to neck pain. Chiropractors use spinal manipulations and other techniques to relieve stress. Spinal manipulations stimulate the nerves to secrete feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. It also decreases the levels of stress hormones such as vasopressin and cortisol in the body.
When performed by an expert, chiropractic care is 100% safe. During a session, you may hear popping sounds. Do not be too alarmed by these sounds as they indicate a positive mechanical change, which means that chiropractic treatment has started to take effect.
Chiropractic care is completely drug free and can reduce dependency on OTC pain medicines that can have various side effects. It is non-invasive.
A treatment session typically lasts 30 minutes. An introductory session usually lasts longer than a routine visit. During the introductory visit, your chiropractor will ask you questions about your medical history to develop a better understanding of the factors that determine the nature, seriousness and frequency of pain in your case.
Whether stress is wreaking havoc on your body or pain interferes with activities of daily living, Toth Chiropractic can help. Dr. Douglass Toth is committed to patient-centric care. He supports his patients every step of the way. To consult him, call (707) 526-1390.