Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Causes of Neck Pain and How To Get Rid of It

Neck pain can range from bothersome and annoying to outright debilitating. It can generally happen due to poor posture, repetitive movement, accidents, slip and fall, or degeneration of the spine. Our neck, also known as cervical spine, begins at the base of the skull and is comprised of seven small vertebrae that protect the delicate structures of your spinal cord and nervous system. The cervical spine is one of the most flexible components of your body, which makes it highly susceptible to injuries because it lacks stability which can make it vulnerable to trauma. Let's take a look at some of the common causes of neck pain.

1. Accidents Accidents are one of the most common causes of neck pain. The head can move suddenly in one direction and then “rebound” in the other direction as in car accidents which can cause inflammation and injury to the tissues. The sudden movement of the head injures the supporting tissues of the neck and head such as the discs, ligaments, muscles and intervertebral discs may get injured. If pain travels down into the shoulders or arms it might be radicular pain which can be caused by a disc bulge or herniation which may require MRI for further evaluation of the pathology associated with the injury.

2. Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis is a harmful condition which causes progressive impairment of cartilage. The body starts to form bone spurs that further destabilize the joint motion causing pain and inflammation from normally activities of daily living. Arthritis is a progressive condition which is why proper treatment and preventative techniques are essential to maintaining proper joint health and stability.

3. Subluxation– Your nervous system controls every aspect of your body. It is like the master computer system that controls every aspect from your sleep cycle to digestion. Your spine protects the delicate nerves that send signals to and from the brain. Thus when a subluxation occurs, which is a misalignment of the spine with neurological and bio-mechanical compromise, it can cause symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, etc. because the misalignment can cause abnormal irritation and inflammation of the nerves and joints of the spine. Chiropractors are your best option to address subluxations because they can detect and correct these spinal misalignment by analyzing the spine through palpation or X-ray making sure to correct these problems preventing further injury to the joint and tissues.

4. Spinal stenosis – Spinal stenosis is the abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal that restricts the spinal canal, resulting in a neurological deficit. A person undergoing this condition may suffer numbness, pain and paraesthesia (an abnormal sensation such as tickling, tingling, numbness or burning of a person's skin with no apparent cause). If spinal stenosis becomes severe enough it may require surgery. This is why early symptoms of stenosis should be addressed with chiropractic, physical therapy, massage and proper medical intervention to avoid worsening of the symptoms.

5. Posture– Sitting for prolonged hours in the same position, weak core or abdominal muscles can also affect your neck. Poor posture generally leads to chronic neck pain with symptoms extending to other areas of the body such as the top of the shoulders or mid-back. New research has also come out which has called, "Sitting is the new smoking." What is meant by this term is that sitting has now become the number 1 cause of preventable illness in the US. This used to be smoking but due to a more sedentary lifestyle we are seeing sitting lead to problems such as obesity, diabetes, neck and back pain, hypertension, headaches, etc all because the body is not built to sit for prolonged periods such as many of your occupations require. The most startling finding from this research is that going to the gym or exercising after work does not completely reverse the negative effects of prolonged sitting. It is still beneficial to exercise frequently but prolonged sitting can cause irreversible damage to your health. This is why we have seen such an increase standing desks which are much more affordable and recommended by many chiropractors around the nation.

How to treat chronic conditions of neck pain?

Considering mediations and injections only mask the pain leaving the cause to return and possibly worsen overtime the best option is to address the root cause of the problem. The best 3 options for this are:
  1. Physical Therapy
  2. Massage

A chiropractor can adjust the spine depending upon your condition to align the joints of the spine reducing irritation and inflammation to the tissues. A neck adjustment (also called cervical manipulation) is a gentle procedure of realigning the spine to reduce neurological irritation. This can be done by hand or machine such as the activator. The procedure improves the mobility of the joints, reduces pain and soreness and helps increase the movement of adjoining muscles.

Physical therapy can provide specific exercises or stretches to correct muscle imbalances or corrupted muscle firing patterns helping to prevent future flare-ups and problems.

Massage can help to decrease muscle pain and stiffness allowing increased blood flow for healing and mobility to make patients feel more relaxed and get back to living life pain free.

Acupuncture can restore proper neurological function and energy or "Chi" to help reduce pain and restore function. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have been around for over 3000 years helping people with all types of conditions ranging from fertility treatments to back pain.

Typically at South Orange County Chiropractic your treatment will consist of a custom tailored program consisting of these 4 treatments to get you feeling your best and back to living life free to pain.

Patients who utilize these treatments have noticed significant improvements in their pain but also in their overall quality of life. The complete rehabilitation treatment plan may comprise of a combination of several techniques such as physical therapy, massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care because everyone is different which is why your doctor will evaluate your condition to determine the best custom treatment protocols for your problem. For more info, feel free to call us at + 1 (949) 470-4757

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