Neck pain can stem from an endless list of causes. For example, you might sleep in the wrong position, and wake up with a cramp in your neck; you might be involved in an auto accident, and experience discomfort characteristic of whiplash; or you may go dancing with friends, and experience a spasm that causes pain if you move a certain way. These and many other circumstances can lead to neck-related pain. Most of us will experience it sometime during our lives, though it will present in different ways.
The most common approach most people take to address the issue is to simply ignore the discomfort. It eventually dissipates to the point at which motion becomes less painful. Unfortunately, this fails to resolve the most common underlying problems: spinal misalignments and joint restrictions. Without addressing these root causes, the stage is set for a recurrence of pain in the future.
Below, we’ll explain how a chiropractor diagnoses the catalysts of neck pain, and describe the methods used to treat them. You’ll discover there’s little need to wait for the pain to disappear on its own; chiropractic care offers quicker and longer-lasting relief.
Diagnosing The Causes Of Neck Pain
Experienced chiropractic doctors realize that complaints about cervical discomfort do not necessarily mean the underlying problem is in the neck. The pain may be emanating from the upper, middle, or lower back. For this reason, he or she will conduct a physical exam and full evaluation of your vertebral column to diagnose the issue.
The evaluation typically begins with motion palpation. This is a method in which the chiropractor uses touch to determine whether the joints in your spine are moving properly. The approach is usually combined with x-rays, which provide visualization of your spine, and observing your posture while you walk.
The Flexion-Distraction Technique
Chiropractic care is comprised of several treatment measures; some rely solely upon manual intervention while others employ instruments designed to leverage the force applied on the vertebral column without the need for thrusts. The approach taken by your doctor will depend largely on the underlying cause of your cervical pain. One common approach is known as the flexion-distraction technique.
This is a manual method typically done with the help of a special table. Your chiropractor will use repetitive thrusts to relieve pressure caused by spinal subluxations (i.e. misalignments). While doing so, he or she will correct misaligned vertebrae that may be triggering pain throughout your neck.
Other Approaches To Ease Discomfort
Many chiropractors will combine the flexion-distraction technique with localized massage and instrument-assisted tissue manipulation. The former approach seeks to loosen the joints; the latter approach aims to eliminate restrictions that may be contributing to the pain.
Trigger point therapy is another common form of treatment used by chiropractors. This is a method in which pressure is applied directly to muscles that are taut. The goal is to relieve tension that might be causing chronic discomfort throughout the neck.
Your chiropractic doctor may also use ultrasound to stimulate blood flow, and inferential electro-therapy to stimulate muscle activity. Both approaches are designed to ease inflammation in your muscles, which helps reduce chronic neck pain.
Cervical discomfort is usually related to vertebral subluxations, joint restrictions, and taut muscles that have accumulated tension for myriad reasons. The aches and soreness may be due to strains, sprains, or injuries suffered in the past, which have then steadily worsened over time. Chronic pain can also be caused by degenerative diseases that affect the joints, and restrict their motion.
When circumstances do not require surgery, chiropractic care offers an ideal solution. It is noninvasive, and precludes the use of medications. Rather than addressing symptoms (as modern medicine often does), a chiropractor targets the underlying factors triggering the cervical pain. In doing so, he or she can restore your vertebral column, and relieve the neck-related aches that impact your daily life.