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.
In addition to practicing chiropractic, Dr. Robins has taught on the college/university level since 1999 instructing and developing courses in health sciences as well as health care management. Being in Indianapolis has provided the opportunity for Dr. Robins to actively participate in legislative bodies addressing issues that impact governmental health policies and regulations toward healthcare. She has also worked with health care lobbies to affect change in legislation and has had the opportunity to participate in a professional exchange to Korea with a U.S. Delegation.

Check all that apply. Most people will not be able to check many of these! But the more you can check, the more worthwhile it is to ask your doctor if it’s possible that there’s something more serious going on than just neck pain. Most people who check off an item or two will turn out not to have an ominous health issue. But red flags are reasons to check… not reasons to worry.

The best way to live with neck pain is to try to prevent it. The best things you can do to prevent neck pain are pay attention to your body, exercise, eat right, and maintain a healthy life style. In addition, do not sit at the computer for hours without getting up frequently to stretch the neck and back. Take the stress of the day out of your neck muscles and do your exercise routine. If you smoke, stop. Smoking is a predisposing factor for neck pain. If you are overweight, try to increase your activity level and eat healthier to get into shape.
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
Jump up ^ Lewis RA, Williams NH, Sutton AJ, Burton K, Din NU, Matar HE, Hendry M, Phillips CJ, Nafees S, Fitzsimmons D, Rickard I, Wilkinson C (2013). "Comparative clinical effectiveness of management strategies for sciatica: systematic review and network meta-analyses". Spine Journal. 15 (6): 1461–77. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2013.08.049. PMID 24412033.
Many states also require applicants to pass a background check and state-specific law exams, called jurisprudence exams. All states require a practicing chiropractor to take continuing education classes to maintain his or her chiropractic license. Check with your state’s board of chiropractic examiners or health department for more specific information on licensure.
Neck injuries can occur during motor vehicle accidents, other traumatic events or sports. Symptoms of these injuries include neck stiffness, shoulder or arm pain, headache, facial pain and dizziness. Pain from a motor vehicle injury may be caused by tears in muscles or injuries to the joints between vertebrae. Other causes of pain are ligament rupture or damage to a disc. Conservative treatment of these injuries includes pain medication, bed rest, reduction of physical activity and physical therapy.

Most people believe that chiropractors treat back pain. That is 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.

Vertebrobasilar artery stroke (VAS) is statistically associated with chiropractic services in persons under 45 years of age,[147] but it is similarly associated with general practitioner services, suggesting that these associations are likely explained by preexisting conditions.[146][148] Weak to moderately strong evidence supports causation (as opposed to statistical association) between cervical manipulative therapy (CMT) and VAS.[149] There is insufficient evidence to support a strong association or no association between cervical manipulation and stroke.[15] While the biomechanical evidence is not sufficient to support the statement that CMT causes cervical artery dissection (CD), clinical reports suggest that mechanical forces have a part in a substantial number of CDs and the majority of population controlled studies found an association between CMT and VAS in young people.[150] It is strongly recommended that practitioners consider the plausibility of CD as a symptom, and people can be informed of the association between CD and CMT before administrating manipulation of the cervical spine.[150] There is controversy regarding the degree of risk of stroke from cervical manipulation.[15] Many chiropractors state that, the association between chiropractic therapy and vertebral arterial dissection is not proven.[17] However, it has been suggested that the causality between chiropractic cervical manipulation beyond the normal range of motion and vascular accidents is probable[17] or definite.[16] There is very low evidence supporting a small association between internal carotid artery dissection and chiropractic neck manipulation.[151] The incidence of internal carotid artery dissection following cervical spine manipulation is unknown.[152] The literature infrequently reports helpful data to better understand the association between cervical manipulative therapy, cervical artery dissection and stroke.[153] The limited evidence is inconclusive that chiropractic spinal manipulation therapy is not a cause of intracranial hypotension.[154] Cervical intradural disc herniation is very rare following spinal manipulation therapy.[155]
Extremity conditions. A 2011 systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that the addition of manual mobilizations to an exercise program for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis resulted in better pain relief than a supervised exercise program alone and suggested that manual therapists consider adding manual mobilisation to optimise supervised active exercise programs.[115] There is silver level evidence that manual therapy is more effective than exercise for the treatment of hip osteoarthritis, however this evidence could be considered to be inconclusive.[116] There is a small amount of research into the efficacy of chiropractic treatment for upper limbs,[117] limited to low level evidence supporting chiropractic management of shoulder pain[118] and limited or fair evidence supporting chiropractic management of leg conditions.[119]
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I’ve never really considered going to a chiropractor—I’m healthy, moderately active and I don’t really have much pain on a regular basis. But I work for a health and wellness company that encourages its employees to take an active role in their health, and many of my coworkers swear by their chiropractors. I wasn’t sure what a chiropractor could really do for me, but after a bit of word-of-mouth research, I found out that chiropractic care actually has benefits for your whole body! So I decided to give it a try.
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