The neck supports the full weight of the head and is very susceptible to muscle strain and the misalignment of, or damage to, the vertebra in the spinal column. Almost everyone experiences neck pain at some time. These pains can be simple, which disappear after a few days, or they can be chronic. Chronic neck pain is defined as pain that persists for 3 months or more.
Age, injury, poor posture or diseases such as arthritis can lead to degeneration of the bones or joints of the cervical spine, causing disc herniation or bone spurs to form. Sudden severe injury to the neck may also contribute to disc herniation, whiplash, blood vessel destruction, vertebral injury and, in extreme cases, permanent paralysis. Herniated discs or bone spurs may cause a narrowing of the spinal canal or the small openings through which spinal nerve roots exit. Pressure on a nerve root by a herniated disc or a bone spur may result in:
MRI (or magnetic resonance imaging) scan is a radiology technique which uses magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of body structures. MRI scanning is painless and does not involve X-ray radiation. Patients with heart pacemakers, metal implants, or metal chips or clips in or around the eyes cannot be scanned with MRI because of the effect of the magnet.
In the U.S., chiropractors perform over 90% of all manipulative treatments. Satisfaction rates are typically higher for chiropractic care compared to medical care, with a 1998 U.S. survey reporting 83% of respondents satisfied or very satisfied with their care; quality of communication seems to be a consistent predictor of patient satisfaction with chiropractors.
One of the most common concerns about the neck that is not especially worrisome: signs of “wear and tear” on the cervical spine, arthritis, and degenerative disc disease, as revealed by x-ray, CT scans, and MRI. Many people who have clear signs of arthritic degeneration in their spines will never have any symptoms, or only minor, and/or not for a long time.10 For instance, about 50% of fortysomethings have clinically silent disk bulges, and even at age 20 there’s a surprising amount of spinal arthritis. The seriousness of these signs is routinely overestimated by patients and healthcare professionals alike.11
If you are lucky enough to have family and friends who regularly visit a chiropractor, ask them for help finding a “chiropractor near me.” A license to practice shows that the doctor is qualified, but a person who has worked with them can tell you about their bedside manner and demeanor. It helps to keep in mind what kind of doctor you generally prefer. Whether you like a warm, caring doctor or a capable but business-like doctor, a recommendation from a family member or friend may be able to help.