The neck, or cervical spine, is formed by seven vertebrae and the discs that separate them. Layers of muscle provide support and mobility, while ligaments provide stability. Spinal nerves radiating from the neck supply power and sensation to the arms and hands. The primary function of the cervical spine is to support the weight of the head. This is no easy task. On average the head weighs 10-12 pounds, and the cervical spine must support this weight as it moves through space. We make this already challenging job even harder with stress, poor posture, and long hours at a computer. Whiplash injury from a car accident is another potential source of stress to the cervical spine. As we age, degenerative and arthritic changes gradually occur as well. It’s no wonder that mechanical neck pain is so common.
Chiropractic is the treatment of choice for most neck pain. Chiropractic adjustments of the cervical spine gently mobilize the joints to improve range of motion. During an adjustment, stretch-sensitive receptors in the joint tissues are stimulated. This stretch causes a reflex relaxation of muscles from the base of the skull, or occiput, to the shoulders. It also causes a reduction in the pain signal from irritated nerves. Circulation increases, which can speed healing of injuries. A chiropractic adjustment can also relieve the muscle tension headaches often associated with neck pain.
Further relief of symptoms can be achieved with supporting modalities like ultrasound, electric muscle stimulation, massage, and kinesiotaping. In addition, a simple program of stretches and exercises can improve posture and strengthen muscles that have been weakened by injury or neglect.
If you are living with neck pain, whether it’s from recent stress or an old injury, chiropractic can provide effective treatment.