The cervical spine (better known as the neck), which has seven vertebrae, has its origin at the base of the skull. The cervical spine is responsible for holding your head, which is no small feat considering your head weighs several pounds. And while your cervical spine possesses a great deal of flexibility, allowing movement in many directions, this very same flexibility renders it prone to injury and pain.
This sensitivity is due to the neck's biomechanics. Factors that can influence your neck's health include injury, prolonged sitting periods, aging and its attendant issues. Cervical pain is very uncomfortable, no matter what the cause is.
The following are contributing factors to neck pain?
1. Accidents and injuries: Whiplash, for instance, can damage the tissues that are supporting the head and neck due to its abrupt rebound effect. The muscles counteract the pain by contracting themselves, causing the ?rebound? phenomenon. Contractions provoke pain, stiffness, and muscle fatigue. More severe cases of whiplash may be linked to intervertebral joint injury, or damage to the discs, nerve roots, muscles, or ligaments. Whiplash is commonly associated with car accidents.
2. Aging Issues: Disorders that have a degenerative origin can present themselves as spinal stenosis, age-linked disc problems, and osteoarthritis. Such conditions negatively affect the spine.
What spinal stenosis does is contract the vertebrae's nerve passageways. This, in turn, also contracts the nerve roots and hinders them. In addition to neck pain, spinal stenosis can also affect the shoulder and arm, bringing numbness and pain to these areas.
A degenerative disc disease could impact the height and elasticity of intervertebral discs, prompting a bulge or hernia to develop in a disc, which in turn can bring tingling, pain, and numbness in the arm.
Osteoarthritis, a common condition, causes gradual degeneration of cartilage, creating bone spurs and affecting joint motion.
There are also daily habits that can aggravate the cervical spine. Obesity and poor posture, for example, alters spinal balance and forces the neck to compensate by leaning forward. Causing stiffness and pain, stress and emotional distress tightens muscles, making them compress. This type of stress on the spine can create permanent cervical pain, which then impairs the upper back and arms.
A thorough evaluation of the experienced symptoms is employed in order to find out the exact source of the pain. The chiropractor may ask questions regarding the amount of time you've had the discomfort, what remedies or tactics you've tried, whether other parts of your body are affected, and what, if anything, helps to alleviate the pain. Physical and neurological exams will also be conducted. The physical exam will disclose your range of motion, posture, and general physical shape while noting the kind of movements that bring pain. Your chiropractor will employ a hands-on approach to evaluate your spine. This helps determine the spine's alignment and exact curvature, and tell whether there are muscle spasms present. In addition, the shoulders will also be evaluated.
The emphasis of the neurological evaluation is to examine your reflexes, muscle strength, as well as the pain's extent and reach. Some cases may also make it necessary to perform additional tests to diagnose the exact condition. An X-ray, for example, helps reveal fractures, bone spurs, and a contracted disc space. An axial tomography scan, in the form of CAT or CT scan, or a magnetic resonance imaging test, known as a MRI, shows where a dilated disc may take place. Nerve damage may also be causing the pain; your chiropractor may recommend an electromyography (EMG) in this case, for this test can test the responsiveness of nerves.
Adjustments to the Neck: Cervical adjustments typically mean hands-on adjustments to the neck joints. The goal of these neck adjustments is to improve mobility of the spine, and aid its range of motion. In addition, it may also raise the amount of movement of the adjoining muscles. Patients receiving cervical adjustments report an increase in their ability to move their heads, as well as less soreness, stiffness, and overall pain.
Expert opinion encourages the employment of spinal manipulation; it's considered beneficial to patients with chronic neck pain. Extensive trials have attested that people with ongoing neck pain receive significant help from spinal adjustments. Following weeks of treatment, the different trial groups demonstrated improvement of reported symptoms.
Each patient receives an individualized program care that may include different types of treatment. The employment of rehabilitative exercises, massage, and exercises that mobilize the affected region may also be recommended. When you contact your chiropractic doctor; you'll be on your way to receiving solid treatment for your neck issues.