“Why Does My Neck Hurt”?
By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor
First of all, if you are asking yourself that question, then you are in good company. Almost everyone, at some point in their life, experiences neck pain. The fundamental reason for this is that anatomically the neck is in a very vulnerable situation. Think about it; you have a 12 to 14 pound ball ( a medium weight bowling ball), sitting on top of a skinny column of bones (seven in total), supported by relatively small muscles, and having a high degree of motion and flexibility. What could possibly go wrong? When you compound that basic anatomy with the kinds of activities and insults that we subject the head and neck to, it is not hard to see how injury can occur. Falls, car crashes, improper posture (particularly in the days of cell phones and computers), improper sleeping posture, etc.; all of these things can precipitate neck pain.
Neck pain has, in fact, become more common in our information age society. It is one thing to keep that heavy ball (your head) balanced on top of the arcing curve of your neck, but another thing entirely to lose the arcing curve and then hold one’s head projected out in front of one’s body. That is precisely what most of us are doing almost all day long, if we are sitting in front of a computer with poor posture, and spending untold hours on our cell phones. What has occurred because of these patterns is that the vast majority of the population have lost the curves in their necks and walk around with their heads projecting out in front of their bodies. This, over time, causes muscle strain, persistent neck pain, and premature degeneration of spinal discs, and a host of other problems including arm pain, numbness and tingling in the arms, shoulder issues, etc. Chiropractic adjusting alone cannot resolve all aspects of this situation. What is needed is a combination of chiropractic adjustments, specific exercises to improve muscle strength, and traction therapies to remodel (reshape) the connective tissue in and around the spine. This is something that the doctors at Chiropractic Health and Wellness specialize in.
Even before the advent of computers, neck pain was a common byproduct of daily living. The bones of your spine (vertebrae) have joints that connect them and allow them to move together as a coordinated machine. Those joints can, due to injury and overuse, become fixated, stiff, or misaligned. These “misalignments” are what we, as chiropractors, treat very effectively. We perform chiropractic adjustments on spinal joints to improve movement, alignment, and allow muscles to fire as they were intended.
Of course, injuries of a more significant nature can also impact the neck. The classic example is that of whiplash injury, as might occur in a car crash or other type of accident where the head and/or the body are suddenly accelerated and decelerated. If, for example, you are sitting at a stoplight in your car, and someone runs into you from behind, you might well sustain a “whiplash” injury wherein your head suddenly snaps backward and then forward. This type of injury creates a whipping motion because of the weight of the head on top of your skinny neck. Such impacts can cause damage to ligaments, tear muscle fibers, concuss brain tissue, and even cause spinal cord injury. In a situation such as I am describing a multi-pronged approach must be used which includes modalities for inflammation, muscle spasm, joint mobility, and the retraining of injured muscles. Chiropractors address all of these factors very effectively.
When functional issues persist in the neck over long periods of time, and particularly when there is a loss of the normal neck curve, it is common for degeneration of the spinal discs to occur. It is also quite likely that the person will develop arthritis in the joints of their neck. In such circumstances, it is essential to restore as much mobility as possible and rehabilitate spinal curves.
It is sometimes the case that neck pain and dysfunction begets arm pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness. The reason for this is that the nerve supply for the arms comes from the lower neck. It was like the arms are an appliance and those appliances plug into the lower neck. Therefore, when dysfunction, degeneration, and disc issues are affecting the lower neck, nerve symptoms, such as I just described, can ensue. There are rare instances when surgery is required, but usually a common sense, natural approach is all that is needed to restore function and relieve nerve irritation.
The doctors at Chiropractic Health and Wellness are specially trained in the art and science of restoring function and alignment to the neck and spine. If you, a loved one, or friend is suffering from neck pain, tingling, weakness, or arm pain, do not hesitate to contact us for an evaluation. It is usually the case that neck pain can be resolved without drugs and surgery.