Sharp neck pain is not in itself a red flag. Believe it or not there is no common worrisome cause of neck pain that is indicated by a sharp quality. In fact, oddly, sharp pains are actually a bit reassuring, despite how they feel. In isolation — with no other obvious problem — they usually indicate that you just have a temporary, minor source of irritation in the cervical spine. Serious causes of neck pain like infections, tumours, and spinal cord problems tend grind you down with throbbing pains, not “stab” you.
There are many benefits of seeing a chiropractor – both well-known and surprising. When most people think of chiropractic care, the spine comes to mind. While it is true that chiropractic care focuses on the spine to promote health, alleviate pain, and achieve balance, when performed by a certified practitioner chiropractic care can also help your skeletal, muscular, digestive, and nervous systems function in harmony. It can also treat many neurological disorders including ADHD, as well as relieve mental stress, pressure headaches, and symptoms associated with PMS and asthma.
If your chiropractor does recommend an X-ray, one piece of advice: wear proper clothing! I made the mistake of wearing jeans to the appointment. And that meant had to change into some not-so-attractive disposable medical shorts… NOT a good look. I would recommend wearing loose-fitting clothing you can move in (that helps for the movement assessment too!) and nix the jewelry. I was smarter for my second appointment and wore my workout gear, so the medical shorts didn’t have to make a second appearance.
To be completely honest, I was still a little nervous before my chiropractor performed the spinal manipulation. But I really had nothing to worry about. We discussed the potential side effects, which can include mild soreness (like you might feel after a workout). If you do feel sore, you can use a cold pack to help reduce any temporary soreness you might experience.
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
Maruyama et al: “All but one patient [of seven] with migraine considered the pain to be unique and unusual compared with previously experienced headache or neck pain episodes. Nevertheless, pain was often interpreted initially as migraine or musculoskeletal in nature by the patient or the treating doctor.” Arnold et al: “Pain was different from earlier episodes in all but one case [of 20].” BACK TO TEXT
Neck pain can have a number of causes, for example: simple muscle strain; injuries as a result of accidents or sports; repetitive or unusual movements; and degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis. If you experience neck pain that persists for more than a few days, it would be advisable to consult you medical doctor or health professional.
Finally, it’s important to know that it’s okay to change chiropractors if the doctor you find just isn’t a good fit. They may be perfectly qualified and capable, but if you aren’t comfortable with them, treatment may be less effective. Some patients love doctors who are straight and to the point, while others prefer someone who provides lots of explanation both before and during a procedure. Likewise, they may not be the best doctor to treat your specific pain condition. As with other doctors, chiropractors understand this and are happy to transfer your records to a different doctor.
One of the most common questions that people ask is around the safety of chiropractic care. So, how safe is it? According to the American Chiropractic Association, “Chiropractic is widely recognized as one of the safest drug-free, non-invasive therapies available for the treatment of back pain, neck pain, joint pain of the arms or legs, headaches, and other neuromusculoskeletal complaints.” While chiropractic is considered a safe complementary therapy, there can be some potential side effects, like soreness following a spinal manipulation.
Mixer chiropractors "mix" diagnostic and treatment approaches from chiropractic, medical and/or osteopathic viewpoints and make up the majority of chiropractors. Unlike straight chiropractors, mixers believe subluxation is one of many causes of disease, and hence they tend to be open to mainstream medicine. Many of them incorporate mainstream medical diagnostics and employ conventional treatments including techniques of physical therapy such as exercise, stretching, massage, ice packs, electrical muscle stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, and moist heat. Some mixers also use techniques from alternative medicine, including nutritional supplements, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal remedies, and biofeedback.
A large number of chiropractors fear that if they do not separate themselves from the traditional vitalistic concept of innate intelligence, chiropractic will continue to be seen as a fringe profession. A variant of chiropractic called naprapathy originated in Chicago in the early twentieth century. It holds that manual manipulation of soft tissue can reduce "interference" in the body and thus improve health.
The word “Chiropractic” is derived from the Greek words “cheir” (hand) and “praktos” (done) combined to mean “done by hand.” It was chosen by the developer of chiropractic care, Daniel David Palmer. In 1895, D.D. Palmer performed a chiropractic adjustment on a partially deaf janitor, Harvey Lillard, who later reported that his hearing had improved due to the change.
Palmer hypothesized that vertebral joint misalignments, which he termed vertebral subluxations, interfered with the body's function and its inborn ability to heal itself. D. D. Palmer repudiated his earlier theory that vertebral subluxations caused pinched nerves in the intervertebral spaces in favor of subluxations causing altered nerve vibration, either too tense or too slack, affecting the tone (health) of the end organ. D. D. Palmer, using a vitalistic approach, imbued the term subluxation with a metaphysical and philosophical meaning. He qualified this by noting that knowledge of innate intelligence was not essential to the competent practice of chiropractic. This concept was later expanded upon by his son, B. J. Palmer, and was instrumental in providing the legal basis of differentiating chiropractic from conventional medicine. In 1910, D. D. Palmer theorized that the nervous system controlled health:
One of the reasons I wanted to visit the chiropractor was to take a more active role in my overall health and wellness. I specifically chose an integrated clinic, which offered not only chiropractic care, but also physical therapy, massage therapy and nutrition consultation. We discussed the addition of multi-vitamins, fish oil and vitamin D to my wellness plan. One thing I learned through this wellness planning? Everyone’s health journey is different! Since health is personal, your approach should be tailored to your specific needs. My focus on an integrated clinic may not be right for you, but I found value in being educated about all the options available to me.