Waking up with neck pain is not a great way to start a day. As painful as it may be, it is not that uncommon and a good rub perhaps with a muscle balm should take care of it. Other times though neck pain, can be quite serious, not only because of the discomfort they cause but also because neck pain can be symptom of a more serious underlying problem such as meningitis.
Medical attention should be sought without delay if neck pain is felt as a shooting pain that starts from the neck and then goes to the shoulders and the arms. Neck pain accompanied by a tingling sensation, weakness or numbness in the arms should also be considered serious as should a neck so stiff that it can’t touch the chest or that has any swelling around it.
Causes of neck pain
Less serious neck pain like a stiff neck is caused by poor posture or sleeping on a pillow that doesn’t offer adequate support. Sleeping on the stomach also causes a stiff neck.
Straining the neck muscles such as through heavy work or driving for a long time can also bring on neck pain that may go further down to the shoulders and back.
Apart from strains, worn-out neck joints will also ache, especially if neck straining jobs are done often especially in older people and this advance to become osteoarthritis.
Nerves may also cause neck pain. Arthritis may cause bone spurs, which are hard, bony growths that put pressure on the nerves and trigger pain. Herniated disks, where the inner layer that resembles gel in a disk juts out to the harder outer layer and bear down on the nerves, which causes pain.
Sometimes, neck pain is experienced as a symptom of an underlying condition such as rheumatoid arthritis which causes pain in the neck as does meningitis whose main symptoms is a painful and stiff neck.
Direct injuries to the neck such as through a car accident or a blow to it will also cause pain, as would a sudden jerking of the neck from side to side or back to front, which would stretch the neck’s soft tissue too much.
Testing for neck pain
If neck pain is bad enough for chiropractic or medical attention to be sought, the doctor will check for the exact spot pain is being felt, ask questions to find out the possible causes and then give treatment. Sometimes, an image test like an x-ray may be needed as well as tests on the nerves. This would reveal conditions like bone spurs, pressed or pinched nerves. An MRI would reveal even more details of the spinal cord and nerves.
Treating neck pain
A strained neck can be treated at home with steps like applying an ice or hot towel, depending how long the pain has been experienced. However, persistent continuous or recurring pain should be treated by a chiropractor or an MD.
A medical doctor may prescribe medicine such as painkillers and may be even muscle relaxants. Chiropractors would use ice/heat therapy along with different types of physiotherapy and adjustments to relieve the neck pain. A patient may also be asked to use a neck brace to relieve pressure off the muscles but this is recommended for short-term use. Neck stretching may also be offered so that neck muscles are stretched and strengthened. This is where a chiropractor comes in.
Treating Neck Pain with chiropractic therapy
Chiropractic offer hands-on treatment, offering localized treatment for neck pain. Chiropractic is a field of medicine that specializes in treating conditions by concentrating on the spine. This form of therapy specializes in the musculoskeletal system and treatment is based on mechanically adjusting the spine to optimum form and condition to restore the body to good health. It works from the foundational principle that diseases and ill health originate from a misaligned spine which triggers the nerves to register pain and that realigning the spine will calm the nerves and take away the sensation of pain and general ill health.
When it comes to neck pain, a chiropractor will mechanically adjust the spine and neck first with a massage, or different types of physiotherapy to loosen up and relax muscles.
Chiropractors do perform tests on their patients just like a medical doctor would and they will take all of a patient’s details like their history, pre-existing or chronic conditions and all other details.
Chiropractic is a holistic form of treatment meaning no drugs or surgery is used. Another advantage of this form of therapy is that it will evoke a sense of well-being that spreads through the whole body as the body’s immunity is boosted. Undiagnosed existing minor injuries or problems with muscles or joints are also detected early, before becoming serious or degenerative.
If necessary, a chiropractor will prescribe supplements such as vitamin and/or supplements to strengthen and boost the body’s immunity. They will also collaborate with other doctors such as orthopedists if they feel medical treatment are necessary and a medical doctor may refer a patient to a chiropractor for treatment after assessing their condition.