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The cervical spine is a marvelous and complex structure. It is capable of supporting a head weighing 15 or more pounds while moving in several directions. No other region of the spine has such freedom of movement. However, this complexity of mobility, makes the neck susceptible to pain and injury. A common side effect of chronic neck pain is headaches.
Causes of Neck Pain
Poor Posture brought on by weak core muscles causing us to slouch. Poor ergonomics while sitting and standing, computer screens not placed properly, poor seating, extended periods of cell phone use, all of which can disrupt the spine’s natural curves often causing compensation in the neck.
Poor Sleeping Habits contribute to neck pain without realizing it. Patients often ask me for advice on their sleeping habits. A good rule of thumb is:
- There’s no good way to sleep on your stomach without hurting your neck!
- If you’re a back sleeper use one pillow.
- When sleeping on your side you need two-three pillows, one or two under your neck depending on the thickness of the pillow and one to support the top arm.
Whiplash a common injury sustained during an auto accident. This is typically termed a hyper-extension/flexion injury because the head is forced to move backward and forward rapidly beyond the neck’s normal range of motion. Whiplash can cause neck pain for years to come, especially, if gone untreated. Research has shown the benefits of early chiropractic and therapy treatment for this sometimes devastating injury.
Degeneration/osteoarthritis is a common joint disorder causing progressive deterioration of the discs between the joints. The body can react to this by fusing joints together forming osteophytes (bone spurs) that impact joint motion. This process can bring more serious symptoms associated with neck pain such as: nerve compression, spinal stenosis as well as numbness and tingling in the arms and hands.
- Apply ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes
- The go-to stretch and the ONLY safe one is neck rotation. Simply rotate your chin to one side looking over your shoulder holding for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Avoid any other motion until you consult your chiropractor.
- Over the counter pain relievers may be helpful for acute pain.
Obtaining a proper diagnosis is paramount to determine the best course of treatment for your neck pain. You have to know what spinal condition is causing your neck pain before you can know how to treat it.
Of course, your chiropractor should always be consulted when it comes to neck or back pain. He/she can help determine the root cause of the problem and help fix it. Chiropractic care helps promote proper mobility of the spine and decreases the chances of developing further complications.