If you have neck pain or a stiff neck that doesn't improve with home treatment, a chiropractor who specializes in treating neck misalignment may be able to help. Whether the cause of your discomfort is a pinched nerve, whiplash following an auto accident, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, or spinal stenosis, chiropractic treatment may help.
When Symptoms May Need Chiropractic Evaluation
Pain in the neck whenever you turn your head to the right or the left may be caused by injury to the neck muscles, ligaments, or intervertebral (facet) joints. Although chronic neck pain is a common ailment among adults of all ages, it can signal a serious problem. Persistent pain, or pain that worsens, is a good reason to schedule a chiropractic evaluation.
You should also see a chiropractor if you've developed symptoms other than neck pain. Shoulder and arm pain or numbness and tingling in your hands or wrists can be signs of degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis.
Symptoms can occur if a disc in your cervical spine bulges or herniates, as intervertebral discs become less elastic with age. The intervertebral joints in the cervical region of the spine get a lot of wear with neck movements. Spinal stenosis — often caused by arthritis — pinches nerves surrounding the spinal cord as the nerve passageways narrow, causing pain and numbness.
What a Chiropractor May Recommend
Depending on the cause of your symptoms, a chiropractor may manually realign vertebrae in the neck that have shifted out of alignment. Neck adjustment, or cervical manipulation, restores normal neck movement and range of motion. Manipulation of the upper spine also helps alleviate neck pain and improves movement of muscles attached to the vertebral column.
Following chiropractic treatment, your chiropractor may recommend certain measures to help prevent future neck pain.
Improve Your Posture
Proper posture when you sit and stand is one way to prevent vertebrae in the neck from shifting out of alignment. Poor posture — particularly the head-and-shoulders-forward posture — strains muscles and ligaments that support the neck. As your neck angles forward, you place more force on the muscles in your neck and upper back.
A forward head posture causes your upper back to slump forward as well. You're not only placing strain on your lower neck, but you are also putting stress on your entire spine. Consequently, pain may radiate from the neck to your shoulders and upper back. Sometimes pain even spreads down the arm.
Follow a Neck Exercise Program
Regular neck stretching exercises help loosen stiff neck muscles, providing you don't overextend your neck beyond its normal range of motion. A chiropractor can instruct you on the types of exercises to perform to treat your symptoms, as well as warn you against exercises to avoid so as not to worsen the pain.
Neck-strengthening exercises can also reduce pain and restore neck movement and muscle strength. Stronger neck muscles give your neck more stability. Weak upper back and core muscles can contribute to neck pain, too. Strong core muscles strengthen your trunk, which helps you maintain good posture and move easier.
Sleep on Your Back or Side
Chiropractors caution against sleeping on your stomach, which puts strain on your back, neck, and joints. You give your spine better support when you sleep on your back or on one side.
Strained muscles and ligaments or injury to the bones of the spine can lead to problems, and sleeping on your stomach makes it hard to maintain a neutral spine position. Neutral spinal alignment is essential for preventing overload on vertebrae that make up the spinal column and the facet joints in the spine.
Another problem when you sleep on your stomach is that your neck is twisted to the side, putting your head and neck out of alignment. Eventually, you can develop neck problems.
When seeking relief from chronic neck pain, give Corner Chiropractic Center a call. Our staff has experience in diagnosing and treating the various causes of neck pain.