Chiropractic Treatment at Barnsley Chiropractic Clinic
Minor neck pains, aches and stiffness are very common symptoms experienced by most people at some stage in their lives. Commonly it is the result of prolonged poor posture such as sleeping poorly or sitting at a desk all day. Sometimes these aches and pains can become recurring and more severe in their intensity and visiting a Chiropractor for a thorough assessment to provide you with a diagnosis is very important. This article will give you a general overview of the neck pain and it should help you understand the following:
- What the neck is composed of
- The different causes of neck pain
- The tests that your Barnsley Chiropractor may conduct to diagnose your condition
- The treatment options available to reduce your pain and improve your mobility and your posture
What is your amazing neck made of?
The neck is made up bones (vertebrae), muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendons, lymph nodes, blood vessels, glands, your voice box (also called the larynx), the oesophagus which is the food pipe and the trachea or windpipe. The neck has to support the head whilst also providing it with mobility. The neck is made up of 7 movable vertebra and intervertebral discs, the attached muscles and ligaments. It is also known as the cervical part if the spine. Cervical is the latin word for constricted area. The neck extends from the skull to the top of the shoulders.
Each vertebra is comprised of a round block of bone at the front of the spine called the vertebral body. At the back of the vertebral body is a bony ring. When the vertebra are placed one on top of the other these bony rings come together to form a hollow tube. This hollow tube encloses the spinal cord. The spinal cord enables the brain to communicate with all the cells, organs and tissues in the body. The neck bones are numbered C1 through to C7 and indeed the first two have specific names. The first cervical vertebrae is called the Atlas and just like in Greek mythology Atlas has to balance the world which in this case is the head.
The second cervical vertebra is called the Axis and it is the specific shape of the Axis bone that provides the neck with so much mobility. The vertebrae all work together to help protect the central nervous system at the same time give flexibility to the neck.
The vertebrae are connected to each other by muscles and ligaments in between the vertebrae at the front of the spine we have the intervertebral discs. There are also little holes on either side of the spine that allow the exit of nerves blood vessels lymphatic tissue etc .If the spine becomes misaligned then it can irritate the different structures including nerves and muscles causing neck pain.
What is neck pain?
Neck pain can take many forms and there can be a variety of presentations. It can be either localised pain or it can refer into other areas such as the head creating a headache. The pain may be a dull ache or it can be very sharp. The severity of pain can range from very mild to extremely severe and debilitating. The pain may be for short periods of time or it might become more continuous. The terms acute and chronic are often applied to neck pain and they describe the duration of the symptom:
- Acute back pain - lasting less than six weeks
- Sub-acute back pain - lasting six weeks to three months
- Chronic back pain - lasting longer than three months
Causes of neck pain
One of the most common causes of neck pain that Chiropractors see is the result of misalignments of the spine. Most people have a head that is approximately the weight of a bowling ball. In good posture there should be a smooth curve (or lordosis) in the neck. Ideally it would be between 35 and 43 degrees and it would be a circular curve.
Commonly in bad posture the neck moves forward on top of the shoulders and creates a lot of stress on the neck. If you had to hold a bowling ball out in front of you all day you would get tired very quickly and that is exactly what happens to the neck.
Other causes of neck pain might include prolonged periods of time; standing, sitting or bending , twisting, lifting with poor technique especially whilst bending and rotating the low back, traumas such as accidents knocks and falls. Emotional stress can be a trigger for neck pain particularly in combination with other predisposing factors. Obesity can change your posture and put more stress onto the neck. Neck pain is a common condition and is more frequently seen in women than men. Most people will experience some form of pain in the neck at some point in their lives.
Diagnosis of neck pain: Assessment
Your Barnsley Chiropractor will conduct a thorough history of what exactly has caused the injury. This will include questions on the exact location of the pain, exacerbating and relieving factors, causes, types of pain, referral of pain, family history etc. You will then be offered an in depth physical examination which will look at all of the following factors including general posture and flexibility. Palpation may reveal muscle tenderness and tightness in the gluteal region and over the sacroiliac joints.
There may be reduced active and passive range of motion. your chiropractor will conduct orthapaedic and muscle tests to determine the extent of weakness. A neurological assessment will be conducted if required. Xrays of the spine may be taken depending on the extent of your problems and the examination findings. Your Chiropractor will discuss with you exactly what examinations will be appropriate and will require your consent before undertaking an examination. Once a diagnosis has been confirmed then specific treatment options can be discussed.
Chiropractic Management and treatment of neck pain: Chiropractic care is a useful way of treating neck pain: There are a number of different treatment modalities that your Barnsley chiropractor might consider.
- The main treatment a chiropractor would provide would be gentle spinal adjustments and or manipulation or mobilization to the spine as required to reduce inflammation and irritation to the nervous system.
- Massage, stretching and strengthening exercises for neck muscles are based on the specific muscles that are involved.
- Relative rest. It is important in the initial phase of treatment to reduce exercise and movements that aggravate the problem to minimum and reduce inflammation, whilst at the same time continuing with other activities that do not affect the condition such as swimmming and other low impact aerobic activities. This is a concept often termed relative rest.
- Ice. Ice can be applied to the neck to reduce the inflammation. This can be a frozen gel pack or simply a home made ice pack. It is recommended to use the ice for no longer than 10 minutes and to wrap it in a towel so as the ice is not directly in contact with the skin.