Your neck is one of the most vulnerable parts of your body. Not only does it support your 4 to 5kg head, maintain a gentle forward curve, and permits head rotation, but it must also allow the free flow of nerve impulses to the head, face, hands and the rest of your body.
Many everyday things can cause neck pain such as watching TV, leaning over your smart device, stress, reading a book or even falling asleep in a chair or sitting for long periods in an aeroplane. Temporary pain caused by such activities usually resolves on its own, especially when the activity is discontinued. If pain continues, an underlying problem may be indicated.
The nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) controls all the other systems of the body. Because of the spine’s complexity, its normal movements are easily disrupted. These areas of abnormal movement are what chiropractors call subluxations. The most common cause of neck pain is functional distortions in the spine resulting from vertebral subluxations. The body responds by tightening the muscles in the neck, “splinting” the joint in an attempt to protect it from further injury. Many of the pain-sensing nerves in the neck are located in pairs of facet joints on the back side of each vertebra. These smooth, interlocking surfaces allow you to rotate your head and bend your head up and down. If these joints become locked or fixated, neck pain can result. Chiropractic care can help restore proper joint motion.
A more difficult problem to correct is the degenerative changes that result from neglect. Years of uncorrected spinal problems can cause bone spurs, disc thinning and other forms of spinal decay. These types of problems respond more slowly, and some form of ongoing supportive chiropractic care may be necessary.
What information does the Chiropractor need?
Before the spine can be adjusted, the Chiropractor needs to know details of past medical history, any accidents and current lifestyle.
A thorough examination may include postural evaluation, specific spinal analysis, orthopaedic and neurological testing. X-rays may be required not only to evaluate the condition and alignment of the spine, but to help rule out any underlying disease.
It’s my neck that hurts—why is the Chiropractor looking at my back as well?
Many patients are surprised when their chiropractic examination involves other areas besides the local site of their symptom(s). Some neck pain cases can be compensation to problems in the feet, knees, hips and lower back. Your Chiropractor sees you as a whole person, not just a collection of “parts”.
How long will I need chiropractic care?
Some patients see quick improvement and immediately discontinue their treatment. They often suffer a relapse since muscles and soft tissues have not had time to fully heal. Others discover that degenerative changes to their spines make periodic checkups a worthwhile thing. We can make recommendations, but how long you benefit from chiropractic care is up to you.
Dr Dennis W Collis DC is proud to be a member of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia – upholding the highest standards in patient care.