The Chiropractic Solution to Neck Pain
If you're suffering with neck pain, you know how disabling this condition can be. By interfering with work, exercise and family activities, neck ache produces more than mere physical anguish. But, you don't have to rely on painkillers with potentially hazardous side effects to quell neck ache. Read on to learn how chiropractic care could end your pain for good - the all-natural way.
Dr. Edelson finds that patients with neck (cervical) pain often suffer from a straightening or reversal of the neck's natural curve. When viewed from the side, the cervical spine should form an arch that's most convex at mid-neck. However, many people, especially those who work at desks or computers, have cervical spines that jet forward (military neck), or even form reversed curves.
Studies show that a straightened or reversed curve weakens the deep muscles of the neck, since these muscles are forced to hold the spine in an anatomically ill-suited posture (Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 1998;44:210). And, weakened muscles bolster the risk of injury and pain. In addition, a flawed cervical curve disrupts the neck's biomechanics (the way joints, muscles, and bones move together). Altered spinal biomechanics are associated with an increased likelihood of osteoarthritis another painful malady.
Are Adjustments the Answer to Neck Pain?
How does chiropractic care alleviate neck pain? Dr. Edelson corrects areas in the spine where movement is restricted or bones (vertebrae) are misaligned. Not surprisingly, these dysfunctional segments, called vertebral subluxations, are often detected in the spines of patients with straightened or reversed cervical curves. Dr. Edelson corrects vertebral subluxations with gentle maneuvers called chiropractic adjustments. Research shows that these specialized maneuvers restore motion and alignment to the spine, in turn, warding off the disorders associated with vertebral subluxations, including neck pain.
One study enrolled 119 patients with neck or back pain. Standard measurement tools were used to evaluate the subjects for pain and disability. The patients underwent chiropractic care, including receiving chiropractic adjustments. Subjects visited their chiropractors an average of 12 times over a 4-week period. Findings revealed an average of a 54% drop in pain and a 49% drop in disability among subjects with neck pain. "Patients attending a private chiropractic clinic for treatment of mechanical neck pain or low-back discomfort had statistically significant reductions in their pain-related disability after treatment," concluded the study's authors. "These results indicate that chiropractic manipulation [adjustment] is beneficial for the treatment of mechanical neck pain and LBP (Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 2000; 23:307-11).
Besides restoring the neck's natural curve, research suggests that adjustments to the spine also quell another neck ache instigator: muscle tension (Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 1999; 22:14953).
Beyond Pain Killers
The chiropractic approach to ending neck pain is a revolutionary one because it seeks to correct the underlying cause of the disorder, rather than masking symptoms with drugs. That's why chiropractic may be more effective than painkillers for long-term neck pain prevention.
One scientific study compared chiropractic adjustments to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil, Motrin, and Orudis. The report concluded that, "The best evidence indicates that cervical manipulation [chiropractic adjustment] for neck pain is much safer than the use of NSAIDs, by as much as a factor of several hundred times. There is no evidence that indicates NSAID use is any more effective than cervical manipulation for neck pain" (Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 1996; 18:530-6).
Another study compared the effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments, NSAIDs, and acupuncture. As part of the analysis, 77 patients with neck or back pain underwent one of the three treatments. After one month, only chiropractic recipients experienced significant improvement. Specifically, neck pain patients reported a 25% reduction in disability and a 33% reduction in pain (Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 1999; 22:376-81).
A Comprehensive Approach
In addition to chiropractic adjustments, doctors of chiropractic often use other all-natural approaches to keep neck pain at bay. These adjunctive therapies include ergonomic suggestions, postural training, physiotherapy, heat and/or cold, specific exercise programs, nutritional supplements, and dietary modifications.
Psychological factors may also influence an individual's risk of neck discomfort. For instance, studies show that a patient's attitude about their work predicts their odds of developing neck pain. Specifically, individuals who feel that they lack control in their work environment have a significantly elevated risk of neck ache (The Back Letter 2000; 15:25). Additional research indicates that stress, depression and anxiety also up the risk of neck disability. That's why chiropractors stress the importance of mental wellbeing, and may recommend psychological counseling or stress-reduction programs such as biofeedback, yoga, Tai Chi and meditation.
Make the Connection
Why is it essential to seek chiropractic care at the first sign of pain or stiffness? Because neck problems are often the initial manifestation of a chronic spinal disorder.
The spine works as a unit - not as a system of isolated segments. That's why misalignments in the neck may eventually spawn biomechanical dysfunction in the mid-back, low-back and hips. In addition, stressed muscles in the neck region may trigger upper-back and shoulder disorders. And, nerves from the spinal cord that exit between cervical vertebrae can become compressed by neck dysfunction, resulting in shoulder, arm, and hand conditions.
Be proactive; get to the root of your spinal problem before it has a chance to spread. Schedule an appointment for a chiropractic evaluation today!
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