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.
Chiropractic doctors diagnose and treat patients whose health problems are associated with the body’s muscular, nervous and skeletal systems. Chiropractors believe that interference with these systems can impair normal functioning, cause pain and lower resistance to disease. They are most well known for the hands-on technique they practice to adjust imbalances in the patient’s skeletal system, particularly the spine.
A small number of neck pain patients, particularly those with arm pain or signs of spinal cord compression, require cervical spine surgery. A new option for neck surgery is an artificial disc. This device made of metal and plastic, is the correct choice for a very small number of individuals with neck pain only and no other abnormality in the cervical spine than a worn out disc.
Chiropractors, especially in America, have a reputation for unnecessarily treating patients.[6] In many circumstances the focus seems to be put on economics instead of health care.[6] Sustained chiropractic care is promoted as a preventative tool, but unnecessary manipulation could possibly present a risk to patients.[4] Some chiropractors are concerned by the routine unjustified claims chiropractors have made.[4] A 2010 analysis of chiropractic websites found the majority of chiropractors and their associations made claims of effectiveness not supported by scientific evidence, while 28% of chiropractor websites advocate lower back pain care, which has some sound evidence.[197]
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.[22] A variant of chiropractic called naprapathy originated in Chicago in the early twentieth century.[35][36] It holds that manual manipulation of soft tissue can reduce "interference" in the body and thus improve health.[36]
Two sleeping positions are easiest on the neck: on your side or on your back. If you sleep on your back, choose a rounded pillow to support the natural curve of your neck, with a flatter pillow cushioning your head. This can be achieved by tucking a small neck roll into the pillowcase of a flatter, softer pillow, or by using a special pillow that has a built-in neck support with an indentation for the head to rest in. Here are some additional tips for side- and back-sleepers:
Your neck is a complex interlocking structure consisting of bones, joints, nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Its main job is to hold up the weight of your head which, at around 5 kilograms, is no mean task. Add to this the requirement that the head must be able to move from side to side and up and down (and do these simultaneously), plus the fact that the neck has to form a conduit for the spinal cord, carry blood vessels to and from the head, and contain passageways for air and food, and you have quite a complex feat of engineering. No wonder then that our necks cause us pain and discomfort, not only on occasion, but for some people in an ongoing fashion.The main physical structures in the neck are the seven interlocking vertebrae. They are called the cervical vertebrae, numbered C1 through to C7. C1, also known as the atlas, is the closest one to your head, followed by C2, which is also known as the axis. Each vertebra is connected to the next by facet joints, and between the vertebrae are intervertebral discs — rubbery cushions made mostly of cartilage that act as shock-absorbers.When should I seek immediate medical treatment for neck pain?Severe neck pain that occurs after a neck injury can be a serious problem, and you should see your doctor immediately. Also, if you have problems with neck pain and experience symptoms such as loss of bladder or bowel control, shooting pains, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or legs, especially if these symptoms come on suddenly or get worse quickly, you should see your doctor straight away.Neck pain and stiffness that’s associated with headache and fever can be a sign of meningitis (an infection of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord). Meningitis is a serious disease, and you should seek immediate medical treatment if you or your child are experiencing these symptoms.Symptoms of neck painSymptoms of neck pain and the sensations you feel can help your doctor to diagnose the cause. Here are some symptoms.Muscle spasmA spasm is a sudden, powerful, involuntary contraction of muscles. The muscles feel painful, stiff and knotted. If you have neck muscle spasms, you may not be able to move your neck — sometimes people call it a crick in the neck. Your doctor or physiotherapist may call it acute torticollis or wry neck.Muscle acheThe neck muscles are sore and may have hard knots (trigger points) that are tender to touch. Pain is often felt up the middle of the back of the neck, or it may ache on one side only.StiffnessThe neck muscles are tight and if you spend too long in one position they feel even tighter. Neck stiffness can make it difficult or painful to move your neck.Nerve painPain from the neck can radiate down the arms, and sometimes, the legs. You may feel a sensation of pins and needles or tingling in your arms, which can be accompanied by numbness, burning or weakness. This pain is typically worse at night.HeadachesHeadaches are common in conjunction with neck problems. They are usually a dull aching type of headache, rather than sharp pain. While the headaches are often felt at the back of the head, the pain may also radiate to the sides, and even the front of the head.Reduced range of motionIf you can’t turn your head to the side to the same degree towards each shoulder, or you feel limited in how far forward you can lower your head to your chest, or how far you can tilt your head back, you may have reduced range of motion. Your doctor will be able to test this.Common causes of neck painWhiplashThis commonly follows a car accident in which the person’s car is hit from behind while it is stationary or slowing down. The person’s head is first thrown backwards and then when their body stops moving, the head is thrust forward. This type of injury can strain your neck muscles and cause ligaments in the neck to stretch or tear.The pain from whiplash, which is usually worse with movement, does not always start immediately — it may take several days to come on. Neck pain and stiffness may be accompanied by muscle spasm, dizziness, headaches, nerve pain and shoulder pain.Muscle strainOngoing overuse of your neck muscles (which can be caused by a poor neck position during everyday activities, particularly computer work) can trigger neck muscle strain, causing chronic neck pain and stiffness. The pain is often worse with movement and may be associated with headaches, muscle spasms and restriction of neck movements.Degenerative disc diseaseAs we grow older, the soft gelatinous centre of the shock-absorbing discs in our spines dries out. This causes the discs to become narrowed, and the distance between the vertebrae to decrease.Herniated discIf the tough outside layer of one of the cervical discs tears, the soft gelatinous centre may bulge outwards — this is known as a herniated disc. Herniated discs can put pressure on nerve roots as they leave the spinal cord, causing pain in the neck as well as pain, numbness and weakness in the arms.Cervical spondylosisThis degenerative condition of the cervical spine is due to normal ageing and wear and tear on the cervical discs and the vertebrae. It is also known as cervical osteoarthritis, and is more common among older people.The development of bone spurs often accompanies this degeneration of the spine. Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, are small outgrowths of bone tissue that are formed when the cartilage covering bone is worn away and bone starts to rub on adjacent bone. The bone spur is the body’s attempt to protect the bone surface. Unfortunately, the bone spur can sometimes pinch or press upon the nerve roots as they leave the spinal canal.Symptoms associated with cervical spondylosis include neck pain and stiffness that often improves with rest. The pain may radiate to the shoulders or between the shoulder blades. If there is nerve root compression, there may be numbness, pain or weakness in the arms.Cervical spinal canal stenosisDegenerative changes in the vertebrae can lead to narrowing of the canal in which your spinal cord lies — this is known as cervical spinal canal stenosis. As the canal becomes narrower, it can put pressure on the spinal cord. The associated neck pain is usually worse with activity, and may radiate to the arms or legs. Arm or leg weakness can also occur. Sometimes people with cervical spinal canal stenosis have no symptoms. Occasionally, it may give rise to Lhermitte's sign — an electric shock-like feeling down the body when the neck is bent forward.Tests and diagnosisYour doctor may be able to determine the cause of your neck pain from your history and physical examination, but sometimes tests such as X-rays, MRI scans and CT scans are required to find the exact cause of your symptoms. These scans can assess the spine and be used to show disc problems, spinal cord problems or compression of your nerve roots.Sometimes doctors will order electromyography (EMG) or nerve conduction studies — tests that evaluate the electrical activity in nerves and muscles to help determine if there is any nerve damage related to your neck problems.It can be difficult to identify the precise source of neck pain even after investigations. Generally, X-ray abnormalities do not correlate well with pain. Some people have severe spondylosis on X-rays, but have no pain. The key thing that your doctor should be able to tell is if the pain is involving pressure on the nerve roots or spinal cord. Last Reviewed: 18 December 2012
Spinal manipulation is associated with frequent, mild and temporary adverse effects,[14][138] including new or worsening pain or stiffness in the affected region.[139] They have been estimated to occur in 33% to 61% of patients, and frequently occur within an hour of treatment and disappear within 24 to 48 hours;[13] adverse reactions appear to be more common following manipulation than mobilization.[140] The most frequently stated adverse effects are mild headache, soreness, and briefly elevated pain fatigue.[141] Chiropractic is correlated with a very high incidence of minor adverse effects.[4] Chiropractic are more commonly associated with serious related adverse effects than other professionals following manipulation.[17] Rarely,[46] spinal manipulation, particularly on the upper spine, can also result in complications that can lead to permanent disability or death; these can occur in adults[14] and children.[142] There is a case of a three-month-old dying following manipulation of the neck area.[137] Estimates vary widely for the incidence of these complications,[13] and the actual incidence is unknown, due to high levels of underreporting and to the difficulty of linking manipulation to adverse effects such as stroke, which is a particular concern.[14] Adverse effects are poorly reported in recent studies investigating chiropractic manipulations.[143] A 2016 systematic review concludes that the level of reporting is unsuitable and unacceptable.[144] Reports of serious adverse events have occurred, resulting from spinal manipulation therapy of the lumbopelvic region.[145] Estimates for serious adverse events vary from 5 strokes per 100,000 manipulations to 1.46 serious adverse events per 10 million manipulations and 2.68 deaths per 10 million manipulations, though it was determined that there was inadequate data to be conclusive.[13] Several case reports show temporal associations between interventions and potentially serious complications.[146] The published medical literature contains reports of 26 deaths since 1934 following chiropractic manipulations and many more seem to remain unpublished.[17]
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Low back pain. A 2013 Cochrane review found very low to moderate evidence that SMT was no more effective than inert interventions, sham SMT or as an adjunct therapy for acute low back pain.[94] The same review found that SMT appears to be no better than other recommended therapies.[94] A 2016 review found moderate evidence indicating that chiropractic care seems to be effective as physical therapy for low back pain.[95] A 2012 overview of systematic reviews found that collectively, SM failed to show it is an effective intervention for pain.[96] A 2011 Cochrane review found strong evidence that suggests there is no clinically meaningful difference between SMT and other treatments for reducing pain and improving function for chronic low back pain.[97] A 2010 Cochrane review found no current evidence to support or refute a clinically significant difference between the effects of combined chiropractic interventions and other interventions for chronic or mixed duration low back pain.[98] A 2010 systematic review found that most studies suggest SMT achieves equivalent or superior improvement in pain and function when compared with other commonly used interventions for short, intermediate, and long-term follow-up.[99] Specific guidelines concerning the treatment of nonspecific (i.e., unknown cause) low back pain are inconsistent between countries.[100]
Often people are scared to see a chiropractor. They are turned off by the “cracking, popping and twisting” involved with manual adjustments. We do offer manual adjusting and get great results utilizing that technique, but there are alternatives. We utilize computerized technology that pulsates or vibrates on the involved areas without the cracking and popping. ProAdjuster and Rapid Release consistent and comfortable.
Generally, you can expect to fill out paperwork or a questionnaire explaining your health history, reason for your visit, surgical and family history, any pain you are feeling or any previous injuries you may have. At my appointment, there was a case manager that came in to explain who I would be meeting with and how the appointment would go. This made me much more comfortable about the whole process—I actually felt at ease and excited to keep working through the next steps! Here is an example of the type of forms you will be asked to fill out.
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