How does neck pain relate to the spine?
The neck, also known as the cervical spine, has seven spinal segments. When any of these segments are misaligned, there can be pain and discomfort. Neck pain/discomfort can feel like a dull ache and/or tension of the muscles surrounding the neck and the upper back. It can also feel like a sharp pain with tingling and/or numbness traveling down the arms into the hands. Moreover, it may be hard to turn the head completely to one side, especially the side with pain.
Why do we get neck pain/discomfort?
There are many possible causes for a misalignment of the neck:
- poor posture (sitting all day and looking down at a computer or cell phone),
- prolonged stress,
- mishaps such as a car accident, a fall, or a sports injury, and
- sleeping on the stomach or using a pillow that doesn’t provide proper neck support.
If a misalignment in the cervical spine is not addressed, it can cause long-term pain and stiffness in the neck and even travel into the upper back and down the arms.
How does Chiropractic help individuals recover from neck pain/discomfort?
When the joints of the neck are out of alignment, they can irritate the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves associated with the misaligned area. Your local San Diego chiropractor will examine the neck, and depending on results, will determine if a specific chiropractic adjustment to the neck is necessary. If so, he or she will gently move the misaligned joint back into place. In addition, your chiropractor will analyze the balance of the muscles supporting your neck and suggest stretches/exercises to help balance those areas.
Your local San Diego chiropractor will also check the segments of the low back. Often, an injury or accident to the low back will cause tension and misalignment in the spinal segments of the neck as well. Once the low back is analyzed, your chiropractor will determine if a specific, gentle adjustment to the low back is necessary.
What stretches and strengthening exercises will help for neck pain/discomfort?
It is important to stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the neck to help balance and stabilize the area. Be sure to stretch both sides, but focus more on the affected side.
Please make sure your chiropractor analyzes your neck for misalignments before performing these stretches. If the neck vertebrae are misaligned when these stretches are performed, it can exacerbate your pain.