Prairie Spine - Neck Pain Chiropractic Care in Eden Prairie, MN
Have you ever had tightness, pain, or stiffness in your neck? Chances are, you've had this happen to you. Neck pain is incredibly common due to the complexity of the mechanics, structure, and function. The neck supports your head, which may weigh 10 pounds or more, and needs to help you look down, look up, and turn side to side. According to Renee Calliet, M.D. if the head weighs 10 lbs. and the center of the ear sits directly over the center of the shoulder, the load on the spine and its tissue is only 10 lbs. However, if the head is translated forward, its weight will increase by 10lbs. for every inch forward it is. In effect, if the center of the ear is 3 inches forward for the center of the shoulders, the weight of the head on the spine and its discs, joints and nerves is 30 lbs.(1)
Major neck pain or recurring pain is a definite sign that something serious is wrong. Even minor neck stiffness can be a signal that something is wrong inside your spine and you should seek a professional evaluation from a specialist, such as a chiropractic physician. See your body knows it needs care. Its just a matter of getting you to do what your body is crying for. Pain is your body crying for real help.
The Cervical Spine
The section of the spine located in the neck is made up of seven bones called vertebrae. These vertebrae protect the spinal cord and nerve roots that exit from the spinal cord. Between the vertebrae are pads of tissue called discs that help cushion the vertebrae as the spine flexes and bends. A sudden injury such as a fall or a car accident may cause damage and pain in the neck. Often though, damage occurs slowly and silently without any pain over time from poor posture, wear and tear, lack of normal spinal position and movement even constant emotional stress from work or relationships.
Injuries and imbalances can cause cervical vertebrae to move out of their normal position or become restricted. Soft tissues (such as tendons, ligaments and muscles) can become inflamed, worn out and fatigued. The cervical discs, which function as cushioning and help with movement, separating and cushioning the cervical vertebrae can begin to decay and lead to disc bulges or ruptures (herniations) and cause neck pain. This degenerative decay in the discs is an ongoing and needs to be stopped to avoid further pain and loss of function in the future. Nerves can become pinched or irritated from misaligned spinal areas or bulging discs. It doesn't take much pressure to cause irritation, only the weight of a dime. Finally, the neck changes as we age. There are several age-related changes that can occur to your spine, often referred to as arthritis. The neck can lose its healthy curve due to deterioration of the muscles or ligaments, have degenerating discs, or even grow bone spurs. All of these degenerative changes can cause irritation to the nerves in the spine and neck.
Symptoms of neck problems
Problems with the neck can lead to symptoms of pain and reduced range of motion (normal rotation should allow the chin to be nearly parallel with your shoulder). Neck problems can also lead to pain in the shoulder, arm, wrist, hands, or fingers. And even seemingly unrelated conditions can be due to neck problems: headaches, sinus congestion and pain, ringing in the ears(tinnitus), and vision disturbances have all been associated with neck dysfunction. Just like a cavity in the tooth has been decaying long before it affects the nerve and causes pain, the misaligned vertebrae can irritate and affect your function before any pain starts.
Getting and keeping a healthy neck
Many people seek treatments for neck pain such as muscle relaxants, pain killers or tranquilizers. These medical treatments should not be the first option because they only "cover up" the pain; they do nothing for the underlying cause which is why when you stop taking the pills the pain returns or increases. More drastic medical interventions include steroid injections or even surgeries that have lists of risks. Long term use of medications can lead to unwanted side effects and damage internal organs such as your liver and kidneys. There are over 400,000 deaths each year from improperly prescribed medications. Here at Prairie Spine we approach neck pain with care that doesn't just treat the symptoms. The goal is to locate the underlying cause and repair it. Your doctor of chiropractic will perform a complete history and thorough examination with special attention to the spine and its affect on the nervous system. Doctors of chiropractic are experts in the care of the bones, nerves, muscles and connective tissues that make up about 60% of your body. The conservative chiropractic approach is to find the source of the neck pain which most often is dysfunction (subluxation) in the vertebrae and repair it allowing the body to heal naturally. Once the dysfunction is repaired the spine moves normally and most importantly the spinal nerves are no longer irritated or pinched allowing proper nerve flow to the different body areas. Many research studies have proven chiropractic medicine to be more effective and safer the other forms of traditional care. One study, published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that patients who received chiropractic care reported significant improvement in their neck function and a reduction in their neck pain whereas those taking pain-killers did not.