Neck pain affects over half of the population in their lifetime. Neck pain is second only to lower back pain as a cause of lost workdays. One of the most common causes of neck pain comes from a slightly misaligned or restricted joint in your neck.
Your neck is made up of seven bones stacked on top of each other with a soft “disc” between each segment to allow for flexibility. Normally, each joint in your neck should move freely and independently.
One of the most common forms of neck pain arises when one or more of the joints in your neck are slightly misaligned and/or restricted. We call this condition “cervical segmental joint restriction” or more simply a “subluxation.” The term “subluxation” literally means “less than a dislocation.”
To help visualize this, imagine a normal neck functioning like a big spring moving freely in every direction. A neck with a joint restriction is like having a section of that spring welded together. The spring may still move, but a portion of it is no longer functioning. Joint restrictions can develop in many ways. Sometimes they are caused by an accident or an injury. Other times, they develop from repetitive strains or poor posture. Restricted joints give rise to a self-perpetuating cycle of discomfort.
Joint restriction often causes swelling and inflammation, which triggers muscular guarding leading to more restriction. Since the spine functions as a unit, rather than as isolated pieces, a joint restriction in one area of the spine often causes “compensatory” problems in another. Think of this as a rowboat with multiple oarsmen on each side. When one rower quits, it places the others under additional stress and can become overworked.
Joint restrictions most commonly cause local tenderness and discomfort and a noticeable decrease in range of motion. Moving your head and neck often increases discomfort. Pain from a restricted joint often radiates down to your shoulders and upper back. Headaches, light-headedness, and/or jaw problems may result from joint restrictions in the upper neck.
Long-standing restrictions are thought to result in arthritis – much like the way a slightly misaligned wheel on your car causes premature wearing of your tire.
Chiropractic care has been shown to be the safest and most effective treatment for joint restrictions. Our office offers several tools to help ease your pain, including chiropractic, acupuncture, manual therapy, and customized stretches and exercises for your neck pain.
Credit: Information on this page provided by ChiroUp.