Man waking up in bed and rubbing his neck due to neck pain.

Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain

Neck pain can be, well, a real “pain in the neck” — source of annoyance, frustration and even debilitation for many people. When it comes to neck pain, chiropractors often employ a combination of techniques to address the underlying causes of the pain and promote healing of this common problem. Here are some common chiropractic treatments used for neck pain:

1.    Spinal Manipulation: This technique, also known as chiropractic adjustment, involves applying controlled force to specific joints in the neck to improve mobility, reduce pain, and restore proper alignment.

2.    Mobilization: Similar to spinal manipulation, mobilization techniques aim to improve joint function and reduce pain through manual stretching and movement of the neck joints.

3.    Soft Tissue Therapy: Chiropractors may use various soft tissue techniques, such as massage therapy, trigger point therapy, or instrument-assisted therapies, to relax muscle tension and alleviate pain in the neck and surrounding areas.

4.    Therapeutic Exercises: Chiropractors often prescribe specific exercises to strengthen and stabilize the muscles supporting the neck. These exercises can help improve posture, increase flexibility, and enhance overall neck function.

5.    Ergonomic and Postural Advice: Chiropractors provide guidance on proper ergonomics and posture during daily activities to reduce strain on the neck. They may suggest adjustments to workstation setup, sleeping positions, and other habits that contribute to neck pain.

6.    Lifestyle Modifications: Chiropractors may recommend lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, stress management techniques, and healthy habits, to support overall musculoskeletal health and reduce neck pain.

It’s important to note that chiropractic care for neck pain may not be suitable for everyone. Chiropractors typically conduct a thorough examination and consider a patient’s medical history before designing a personalized treatment plan. If your neck pain is accompanied by severe symptoms like radiating pain, numbness, or weakness, it’s advisable to seek medical attention to rule out any serious underlying conditions before considering chiropractic care.

 Causes of Neck Pain

Man rubbing neck pain after a car accident.

There can be various causes of neck pain. Here are some common ones:

  • Muscle strain: Overuse or poor posture can strain the muscles in the neck, leading to pain and discomfort.
  • Poor posture: Sitting or standing in a position that places the neck in an unnatural or strained position for extended periods can contribute to neck pain.
  • Neck injuries: Accidents, such as car collisions or falls, can result in whiplash or other neck injury, causing pain and stiffness.
  • Herniated cervical disc: A herniated or bulging disc in the neck can put pressure on the nerves and cause neck pain.
  • Degenerative disc disease: As people age, the discs between the vertebrae in the neck can degenerate, leading to pain and stiffness.
  • Osteoarthritis: The breakdown of cartilage in the neck joints due to aging can result in osteoarthritis, causing neck pain and stiffness.
  • Pinched nerve: Compression or irritation of a nerve in the neck, often caused by herniated discs or bone spurs, can lead to neck pain.
  • Stress and tension: Emotional stress and tension can cause muscles in the neck to become tight and result in pain.
  • Sleeping position: Sleeping in an awkward position or using an unsupportive pillow can strain the neck and cause pain.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia, spinal stenosis, rheumatoid arthritis or other spinal problems can cause neck pain as a symptom.

Chiropractic Treatment for Neck Pain

Bend Chiropractor Bari Liebowitz performing a neck adjustment on a patient.

A neck adjustment, also known as cervical manipulation or cervical adjustment, is a technique commonly used by chiropractors to treat neck pain and related conditions. It involves applying controlled and sudden force to the joints of the cervical spine (neck) to improve mobility, reduce pain, and restore proper alignment.

During a neck adjustment, the chiropractor will use their hands or a specialized instrument to apply a quick and precise thrust to specific vertebrae in the neck region. The aim is to correct any misalignments or restrictions in the joints, known as subluxations, that may be causing pain, stiffness, or reduced range of motion.

The chiropractor will typically position the patient in a specific way to access the targeted vertebrae. They may also use various techniques, such as manual manipulation, gentle pressure, or instrument-assisted adjustments, based on the individual’s needs and preferences.

The adjustment itself often produces a popping or cracking sound, similar to the sound that occurs when you crack your knuckles. This sound is known as cavitation and is caused by the release of gas bubbles in the joint fluid when the pressure in the joint changes.

It’s worth mentioning that neck adjustments may not be suitable for everyone, especially individuals with certain medical conditions or those who are at a higher risk of complications. It’s always a good idea to discuss your concerns and medical history with a healthcare professional before undergoing any type of neck adjustment or chiropractic care.

How Do You Know if Your Neck Needs Adjustment?

A woman at a computer rubbing her neck due to muscle strain.

Determining whether your neck needs an adjustment is best left to a qualified healthcare professional, such as a chiropractor or a medical doctor. They can perform a comprehensive evaluation and provide an accurate diagnosis based on your symptoms, medical history, and physical examination. However, there are some signs and symptoms that may indicate that you could benefit from cervical spine manipulation. These include:

1.    Neck Pain: Recurrent or chronic pain in the neck area, including stiffness, soreness, or aching sensations.

2.    Reduced Range of Motion: Difficulty moving your neck fully in all directions or experiencing restrictions in your normal range of motion.

3.    Headaches: Frequent or recurring headaches that originate from the neck, known as cervicogenic headaches.

4.    Muscle Tension: Persistent muscle tightness, knots, or spasms in the neck and upper shoulder area.

5.    Radiating Pain or Numbness: Pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness that extends from the neck into the shoulders, arms, or hands.

6.    Postural Issues: Noticeable changes in your posture, such as a forward head posture or rounded shoulders, which can contribute to neck pain.

7.    Recent Trauma: If you have recently experienced a traumatic event, such as a car accident or sports injury, that could have affected your neck.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional will assess your condition, perform necessary tests or imaging, and recommend appropriate treatment options, which may include seeing a licensed chiropractor if it’s deemed suitable for your case.

How Long Does it Take a Chiropractor to Fix Neck Pain?

Bend chiropractor Bari Liebowitz using the graston technique on the neck of a patient for neck pain. The duration of chiropractic treatment for neck pain can vary depending on several factors, including the severity and underlying cause of the pain, the individual’s overall health, their response to treatment, and their adherence to any prescribed exercises or lifestyle modifications.

In some cases, individuals may experience relief from neck pain after just a few chiropractic sessions. However, for others, especially those with chronic or more complex conditions, it may take several weeks or months of consistent treatment to achieve significant improvement.

Chiropractic treatment plans are typically individualized based on the patient’s specific needs and goals. Initially, the chiropractor will conduct a thorough physical exam, which may include a physical assessment, review of medical history, and possibly diagnostic imaging, to determine the cause of the neck pain. Based on their findings, they will develop a personalized treatment plan.

The treatment plan may involve a combination of chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue therapy, exercises, and lifestyle recommendations. The frequency and duration of chiropractic sessions will be determined by the chiropractor and may be adjusted over time as the patient progresses.

It’s important to remember that chiropractic care aims to address the underlying causes of neck pain and promote long-term healing rather than providing quick fixes or temporary relief. Consistency with treatment, following the chiropractor‘s recommendations, and actively participating in any prescribed exercises or lifestyle changes can greatly impact the speed and effectiveness of the recovery process.

Communicating with your chiropractor about your progress, any changes in symptoms, and any concerns you may have is essential. They will be able to provide a more accurate estimate of the expected duration of effective treatment based on your specific situation.

What are the Benefits of Neck Adjustments?

A group of people doing yoga outdoors.

Neck adjustments can offer several potential benefits for individuals experiencing neck pain or related issues. The specific benefits may vary from person to person, and the effectiveness of neck adjustments can depend on various factors.

1.    Pain Relief: Neck adjustments can help reduce pain and discomfort in the neck region. By realigning the vertebrae and improving joint mobility, the pressure on nerves and surrounding tissues may be alleviated, leading to pain reduction.

2.    Improved Range of Motion: Neck adjustments can enhance the range of motion in the neck joints. If stiffness or restrictions in movement are present, adjustments may help restore normal mobility, allowing for improved flexibility and ease of movement.

3.    Reduced Muscle Tension: Neck adjustments can help relax tight and tense muscles in the neck and surrounding areas. By releasing muscle tension, individuals may experience relief from muscle spasms, knots, and associated discomfort.

4.    Headache Relief: Neck adjustments may be beneficial in addressing certain types of headaches, such as cervicogenic headaches that originate from the neck. By relieving tension and reducing nerve irritation, adjustments can potentially alleviate headache symptoms.

5.    Improved Posture: Neck adjustments can contribute to improved posture, particularly in cases where forward head posture or other postural abnormalities are present. Correcting alignment issues in the cervical spine can positively impact overall posture and reduce strain on the neck.

6.    Enhanced Nerve Function: When vertebrae are misaligned or there is pressure on the nerves, it can affect nerve function. By realigning the spine and reducing nerve irritation, neck adjustments may help improve nerve function and overall nervous system health.

7.    Complementary Treatment: Neck adjustments can be used as part of a comprehensive treatment approach that may include other therapies, exercises, and lifestyle modifications. They can work synergistically with other interventions to support overall healing and recovery.

It’s important to remember that while many people find neck adjustments beneficial, they may not be suitable or necessary for everyone. Each person’s situation is unique, and the best chiropractor can assess your condition, discuss the potential benefits and risks, and determine the most appropriate treatment plan for you. Contact us at Total Body Chiropractic in Bend, Oregon, for a chiropractic consultation of your neck pain.