Neck stiffness and soreness occur from time to time and are usually quick to leave. But if they persist, neck pain can be an on and off relationship that lasts a long time. Luckily, chiropractic adjustments provide precise treatment to neck joints. This improves the mobility of the spine and helps restore normal range of motion. The ability to tilt your head, turn your head, and have less pain are all possible with chiropractic care.
Common causes of neck pain
The head tilted forward for long periods is a problem. It causes the neck and upper back muscles, tendons, and ligaments to overwork. This overload creates a strain on the structures that in time lead to pain. The most common causes of poor posture are looking down at a phone, computer, and reading.
If the bed and pillow do not support the neck and spine, it is like spending hours placed in the wrong posture. But sometimes the pain is sudden with waking and is due to having slept in some awkward position.
Holding the head in the same position for a long time.
This creates neck strain. Examples are:
- Cradling the phone with the shoulder
- Painting a ceiling
- Sitting at a lecture off to the side with the neck turned to look
- Looking up at a stage during a performance
Bending your neck while carrying something on only one side
Like a backpack full of heavy books with the strap over one shoulder only. Then repeat every school day, every week, every year. Or the same backpack, but once, while running long distance through the airport to catch a flight.
Repetitive movements of the head.
For example, performing some type of factory work or production work. Performing a motion where the head must turn back and forth. It’s like watching a tennis match all day. Or if you have to keep looking up and down. These motions can strain the structures of the neck over time.
Trauma to the neck from something like a car accident, sports injury, or fall.
It not all in the head, the neck pain from stress is real. Stress from work, financial stress, family stress, good stress, bad stress.
It can cause an unconscious tensing of the neck and upper back, even lower back muscles. Often relaxing, receiving a massage, or using heat can end the problem. But the tension of the muscles can pull a vertebra out of its normal position or motion. Then the pain may persist longer than the stress.
That is looking up while looking down at the computer screen wearing bifocals. Bifocal glasses need a tilt to the head to read the close text. Spending a day looking up to look down at a computer screen places stress on the neck.
When did it start?
Unless it was a car accident or injury, most people can’t remember when it started.
With the neck, you can feel various symptoms such as soreness, ache, and stiffness. But other symptoms aren’t as straight forward. Symptoms like dizziness, headaches, head pain, face pain, and pain in the ears. Also numbness and tingling in all these areas, including the upper back and arms.
It is what the neck is made up of that causes these symptoms.
The neck, also called the cervical spine, consists of seven bones. The bones are called vertebra and there is a disc between each bone.
The neck contains the top of the spinal cord and the eight pairs of spinal nerves that exit the spine. Those nerves travel to various parts of the body and can become irritated or compressed.
There also joints on either side of each vertebra called facet joints. Those joints can cause local pain or refer pain. As noted above, pain in the shoulder or down the arm, or pain between the shoulder blades can be a neck problem.
The neck is also made up of muscles and ligaments which hold and balance the head which can weight about 12 pounds. The muscles can also form trigger points. Trigger points can cause local pain or send pain into other areas of the body.
Even the neck’s flexibility, allowing the head to move in almost any direction, can be a weak link. This freedom makes the neck susceptible to strain and injury.
Sometimes the neck can give clues about what is bothering it.
Waking feeling good, only to experience pain as the day goes on. This can be a muscle strain or muscle weakness or fatigue.
Waking to feel stiff, sore, and achy. This could mean the joints are involved or developing arthritis.
The pain made worse by sneezing or coughing could mean a disc is involved.
Neck pain has also been graded in the scientific literature.
Grade I: Neck pain that doesn’t interfere with living.
Grade II: Neck pain that does not significantly interfere with living.
Grade III: Neck pain associated with a pinched nerve. The pinched nerve causes radiating pain, weakness or numbness in the arm.
Grade IV: Neck pain associated with tumors, infections, fractures, and other serious conditions.
Most often, neck pain is found in the Grade I and II categories. And chiropractic may help all the way up to Grade III.