Can Chiropractic Services Relieve my Neck Pain?
Neck Pain Chiropractic Treatment
The neck, also called the cervical spine, extends from the base of the skull to the top of the shoulders and is make of 7 vertebrae or spinal bones.
These bones articulate or fit together and work and move individually and as a group to allow the neck to move in almost any direction imaginable, within limits. You have 6 basic ranges of motion and just about every combination of motion in between these six ranges. The basic 6 are; Flexion of bending your neck and head forward like looking down or trying to touch your chin to your chest; Extension or tilting your head up as if to look at the birds in the sky, Right and Left Lateral Flexion or tilting, like trying to tilt your head to touch your ear to your shoulder; Right and Left Rotation as if trying to look over your right or left shoulder without rotating your body.
When the articulations or joints are out of alignment or not moving normally, you will experience decreased or restriction of motion in the normal plains of movement which may or may not result in pain. The problem with the misalignment is that, when analogized, is like putting the front tires out of alignment on your vehicle. Even though the misaligned tires may not appear to effect the drivability of the car, the tire treads wear out faster. The same effect occurs in a misaligned spine.
Besides alignment with each adjacent vertebral segment, the entire neck of cervical spine should have a normal curve from front to back called a lordosis. There are many reasons that this curve decreases or flattens out. The most common reason we see in our office today is likely from looking down at phones and notebooks or iPads. You can also negatively effect the good curve traumatically like in a car accident of from sports injuries. The effect on the supporting muscles in the neck and upper back is analogized in the following example. Imagine holding a bowling ball in your hand above you bent elbow next to you shoulder. If your wrist is extended, the ball balances. If you tilt the ball forward or flex the wrist, your hand needs to strongly grip the ball to hold it up and your wrist muscles need to work extra hard to hold it up. In the same way, if your curve is reduced in your neck, the muscles in your neck have to grip harder and the neck and upper back muscles have to work to hold the head up as opposed to the normal curve allowing the head to balance on the neck. This causes the muscles at the base of the skull into the shoulders and, believe it or not, all the way down to the spine at the bottom of the rib cage to be tight, painful and develop painful trigger points.
Another side effect to bones being out of alignment is that it causes nerves to be pinched or compressed. A misalignment of 1/23 of an inch can cause pinching of the nerves above and below that segment. This doesn’t necessarily cause pain. Why not? Nerves have many function and only one of these functions is pain. The nerves control every function in the body from muscle contraction to digestion, light touch to breathing, in fact, my anatomy instructor taught that, because every call in the body has to have a nerve supply to function, you could remove all tissues in the body except for nerve tissue and still recognize the person. In some estimations, the human body can contain up to 100 trillion nerve cells! When you have a pinched nerve in the neck or back, it is like standing on a garden hose while trying to water your tomatoes. The amount of pinching depends on how much pressure is applied. The more pinching on a nerve, the more effect it will have on that nerve. One nerve can serve many areas and functions as it branches out. An example would be a nerve in the lower neck that can effect sensation, contraction of muscles, reflexes, your diaphragm, strength in the shoulders, arms and forearms and a much longer list than this short section has time to introduce.
Proper chiropractic treatment, according to the doctors at the Chiropractic Center of Erie, involves correction of the structural (bone) alignment, a therapy to balance and sedate (calm) the effected nerves in the area of complaint and then soft tissue balancing which is initially addressed through massage and soft tissue techniques and is later addressed with proper stretching for normal range of motion and eventually strengthening of the muscles to stabilize the area even more.