Some of the findings from my tests were things that I could fix at home, and others could be helped with hands-on chiropractic care, like an adjustment. In my case, I didn’t have a normal c-shaped curve in my neck. This can be caused by minor whiplash, sports injuries or even sitting forward all day (I spend a lot of time at work staring at a screen). The chiropractor recommended at-home care in the way of a rolled up towel or ergonomic pillow. These can help restore the curve in your neck.
Before I left, the office gave me a cold pack to use in case of any soreness. I didn’t have a need to use it, but everyone is different. “A cold pack can be a great tool to add to your wellness toolkit, since it can help control soreness, bruising and inflammation,” says Dr. Greg Doer, DC. Plus, it doesn’t just come in handy after a chiropractic adjustment. You can reuse it again and again.
The next step in the process was an X-ray. Having an X-ray done of your spine can help the chiropractor determine your treatment plan and can aid in the adjustment. That said, not all chiropractors will recommend an X-ray at your appointment. It turns out some chiropractors say that X-rays should be part of routine chiropractic care, while others argue X-rays aren't necessary for every patient. When researching potential chiropractors, feel free to ask if they recommend X-rays for all patients and how the X-rays can benefit your treatment plan.
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.
Important! None of these are dangerous! Although some are quite unpleasant. Reading about medical problems on the Internet can easily freak us out,13 so the goal here is to identify possible causes of neck pain that are not so scary. If you can get a positive ID on one of these conditions, then you get to stop worrying about the threat of something worse.
Most people believe that chiropractors treat back pain. That is a true, but there is so much more that chiropractic care can achieve. Because chiropractors help to remove pressure from the nervous system, they can also influence many other conditions. It is common to hear chiropractic patients say that they came in for back pain and their headaches got better.
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
Chronic neck pain is pain, stiffness, and soreness in the neck, perhaps with decreased mobility, that lasts more than several weeks. The traditional medical response to neck pain is to recommend pain relievers, but drugs simply mask the symptoms – and taking them for an indefinite period can do more harm than good. Treating chronic pain through traditional means (including pain management, injections, chiropractic manipulation, and surgery) is not likely to resolve the true source of the pain.
All treatment is based on an accurate diagnosis of your back pain. The chiropractor should be well informed regarding your medical history, including ongoing medical conditions, current medications, traumatic/surgical history, and lifestyle factors. Although rare, there have been cases in which treatment worsened a herniated or slipped disc, or neck manipulation resulted spinal cord injury. To be safe, always check with your medical doctor to make sure your condition will benefit from chiropractic or other pain relief alternatives.