Your neck, shoulders and upper back must hold up your head, typically 12 pounds worth. In addition to holding it up, it must allow it to move in many directions. This flexibility makes it prone to injuries.
Upper back, shoulder and neck injuries are due to a variety of causes. These include:
- Sitting in the same position for long periods of time
- Repetitive movements
- Car accident
- Hit to the body or the head
If any of these things happen, you are likely to experience problems due to subluxations.
Chiropractic will locate the source of your pain so we can eliminate the problem. Your chiropractor will ask questions such as:
- When did the pain start?
- Did you use ice or heat?
- What have you done to reduce the pain?
- Where is the area that hurts the most?
- Does the pain go into other parts of your body?
- Do certain body positions such as lying down or sitting make it better or make it worse?
The answers to these questions, as well as range of motion tests, reflex tests, muscle strength, and x-rays will help your chiropractor diagnose the problem and help him/her find a way to best treat you.
A neck adjustment can be done by hand or using chiropractic instruments. This is done to improve the mobility of the spine, restore your range of motion and to reduce or remove nerve interference. By doing so, this may reduce pain, soreness, stiffness and increase function.
Over and Over and Over Again
Repetitive Motion Injuries, also known as Cumulative Trauma Disorder, are the fastest growing type of injury in the United States. This is due to many things, including:
- Increased computer usage
- Poor ergonomics
- Longer commutes to/from work
- Increased backpack weight in children
- Medical treatment focusing on symptoms rather than prevention or correction
Words Defined: Ergonomics
Ergonomics is the science of making things comfortable and efficient. At its simplest definition ergonomics literally means the science of work. So ergonomists study work, how work is done and how to work better.
Repetitive injuries come from recurring irritation of softtissues or chronic muscle tightness. This will lead to injuries that cause dysfunction and pain. When irritation or muscle tightness occur, soft tissues do not get the oxygen they need. Soft tissues can only get the full amount of oxygen when a muscle fully contracts and fully relaxes. This does not happen during repetitive movements.
A decrease in oxygen causes fibroblastic activity – involved in forming fibrous tissue called scar tissue. As more scar tissue is formed, flexibility and strength are further reduced and the vicious cycle continues leading to stiffness, pain and weakness. The problem is that repetitive injuries develop over months or even years before the first symptoms appear.
Words Defined: Peripheral Nerve Entrapment
Nerves that are irritated as they pass through muscles on their way to other destinations. This is due to adhesions in the nerve passageway. Once the symptoms appear, the muscles and tendons begin to stick together and nerves can get involved. This is known as peripheral nerve entrapment
The neck, or cervical spine, is made up of seven vertebrae. It supports the weight of the head and protects the nerves which transmit information from the brain to the rest of the body. The ligaments, muscles and bones in the neck allow it to be flexible and able to move in many directions. . There are many conditions that not only affect your neck but can cause referred pain. Here are some of the most common conditions that affect the neck.
Arthritis/Arthrosis of the Neck
Arthritis is one of the most common chronic conditions causing stiffness and pain. In fact, there are more than 100 types of arthritis.1 Arthritis causes chronic irritation, degeneration, and inflammation of a joint or multiple joints. There are both inflammatory and degenerative forms of this condition. Inflammatory arthritis produces an uncomfortable amount of swelling of the joints. It can lead to a lot of pain and create erosive changes in the joint if left untreated.
Degenerative arthritis is a wearing down of the cartilage used to protect our joints. While this does not cause an incredible amount of swelling, there can be pain as a result of the cartilage breaking down, and the diminished joint support. The degenerative changes will cause stiffness in the joint, which is often made worse overnight because of the lack of movement to the area during the night.
What Causes Arthritis in the Neck?
Getting older can be a pain in the neck…literally! Age is the number one factor in arthritis of the neck as degeneration in the cervical vertebrae occurs in practically everyone as we age.
Symptoms of Arthritis in the Neck
- Neck pain and stiffness, especially in the morning and end of the day
- Headache that originates in the neck
- Pain in arms and shoulders
- Pain, stiffness and inability to bend the neck and fully turn the head
- Grinding noise or sensation when the neck is turned
Mechanical Neck Pain
Mechanical neck pain is a result of degenerative disc disease and arthritis of the facet joints of the cervical spine. Mechanical Neck Pain is a condition that can become chronic due to degenerative disc disease and arthritis in the neck, with the source of pain coming from the spine and its structure. This happens when one of the joints in the spinal area loses its normal resiliency and shock absorption. When a joint becomes dysfunctional, its normal range of movement may be affected and it can be rather painful.
Dysfunctional joints may turn into muscle pain, and even affect the nervous system. This may happen because of the high amount of nerve receptors in the joint. Any muscles related to the joint can become tense and underactive. The muscle imbalance can cause additional stress on the joint, aggravating the joint dysfunction that exists already. Nearly any joint in the spine, from the neck all the way down to the sacroiliac joints, can cause pain. When the joints aren’t being used on a regular basis, degenerative pain occurs.
What Causes Mechanical Neck Pain?
- Degenerative issues with the cervical spine, the mechanical parts that allow us to move our head up
and down and around
- Minor strains or sprains to muscles or ligaments in the neck
- Bad posture. For example, neck pain is more common in people who spend much of their working day at a desk, with a ‘bent-forward’ posture.
- Sometimes the exact cause is unknown.
Symptoms of Mechanical Neck Pain
- Mechanical Neck Pain will not only induce pain in the neck, but also in the shoulders, and upper back
- Neck pain tends to worsen with movement
Neck Pain due to Whiplash
Whiplash syndrome is a collection of symptoms that result when there is soft-tissue injury of the cervical spine. Whiplash is very common whenever the head is forcefully jerked forward, back, or both. It is a common injury with automobile accidents. In fact, many people have suffered whiplash even in low impact car collisions. It is also common for someone to have a delayed onset of whiplash, where the person does not realize that they have had a whiplash injury. When this occurs, usually at some future point in time, that patient will begin to present with some of the classic signs of a whiplash injury.
What Causes Neck Pain from Whiplash?
The rapid and forceful movement that jerks the head forward and back, causes major strain to the cervical spine. Though most often associated with a rear-end collision, whiplash can also occur from a sports injury, physical abuse or trauma.
The most common whiplash symptoms are:
- Neck pain and/or stiffness
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- Pain in the arms or legs, feet and hands
- Low back pain and/or stiffness
- Shoulder pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Numbness and tingling
- Pain in the jaw or face