Your neck, which is also known as the cervical spine, consists of seven vertebrae. The neck originates at the base of the skull. Considering your head weighs quite a few pounds, your neck's responsibility of holding it up is a feat. And while your cervical spine possesses a great deal of flexibility, allowing movement in many directions, this very same flexibility renders it prone to injury and pain.
The reason for this vulnerability is attributed to the biomechanics of the cervical spine. Repetitive movements, injury, sitting for prolonged periods, or merely the natural process of aging and its attendant side-effects can affect your neck's health. No matter the issues affecting it, neck pain is quite uncomfortable.
The following are contributing factors to neck pain?
1. Accidents and Injury: Whiplash results from a sudden, abrupt movement of the neck or head that causes a rebound effect that may damage the tissues supporting the neck and head. The so-called ?rebound? is a result of muscles reacting to strain by contracting themselves. Contraction causes stiffness, pain, and muscle fatigue. Whiplash cases are related to intervertebral joint injury, and to weakened ligaments, muscles, nerve roots, or discs. Whiplash is commonly associated with car accidents.
2. Aging: Disorders of a degenerative nature can take the form of spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, and age-related disc ailments. They all have a direct influence on the spine.
Spinal stenosis contracts the nerve passageways in the vertebrae, causing it to narrow and impede the nerve roots, which in turn, harms the nerves. The attendant pain is just part of the story; spinal stenosis could also affect the shoulders and arms with numbness and pain.
A degenerative disc disease could impact the height and elasticity of intervertebral discs, prompting a bulge or hernia to develop in a disc, which in turn can bring tingling, pain, and numbness in the arm.
Osteoarthritis, a common occurrence, results in progressive degeneration of cartilage. The body's response is to create bone spurs, which in turn, affects the motion of the joints.
Adherence to a few habits can also aggravate the neck. Obesity and poor posture, for example, alters spinal balance and forces the neck to compensate by leaning forward. Causing stiffness and pain, stress and emotional distress tightens muscles, making them compress. The stress on the spine can result in permanent neck pain, which may also end up affecting the arms and upper back.
Your chiropractic doctor makes a thorough evaluation of the patient's symptoms to find the exact source of the pain. Your chiropractor could deem it useful to learn how long you've had the pain, what methods of pain relief you've tried on the affected bodily parts, and what has been helpful so far. Physical and neurological exams will also be conducted. The physical exam will disclose your range of motion, posture, and general physical shape while noting the kind of movements that bring pain. Your chiropractor will employ a hands-on approach to evaluate your spine. This helps determine the spine's alignment and exact curvature, and tell whether there are muscle spasms present. In addition, the shoulders will also be evaluated.
In the neurological exam, the emphasis will be on checking your muscle strength, reflexes, and extent of pain and how far it has spread. Other tests may also be necessary to make a proper diagnosis of your condition. The likes of bone spurs, fractures, and a contracted disc space may be made apparent with the aid of an X-ray. An axial tomography scan, in the form of CAT or CT scan, or a magnetic resonance imaging test, known as a MRI, shows where a dilated disc may take place. Nerve damage may also be causing the pain; your chiropractor may recommend an electromyography (EMG) in this case, for this test can test the responsiveness of nerves.
Cervical Adjustments: Cervical manipulation entails, for the most part, manual adjustment of the neck joints. Neck adjustments of this nature can restore mobility of the spine and its range of motion. Neck adjustments may also benefit the connecting muscles by raising their amount of movement. Patients receiving cervical adjustments report an increase in their ability to move their heads, as well as less soreness, stiffness, and overall pain.
Research findings support the use of chiropractic spinal manipulation for the treatment of patients with chronic neck pain. Comprehensive clinical trials reported significant improvement of chronic neck pain as a result of spinal manipulation. All the groups that were evaluated showed improvement of their symptoms for a prolonged period alter treatment.
Each patient receives an individualized program care that may include different types of treatment. The employment of rehabilitative exercises, massage, and exercises that mobilize the affected region may also be recommended. Contact your chiropractic doctor; it's an invaluable first step to figuring out how to care for your cervical spine.