Your neck (the cervical spine) is composed of seven small vertebrae, from the base of the skull down. The cervical spine supports the weight of your head, which on average is about twelve pounds.
The cervical spine is very flexible, being able to move your head in nearly every direction. But this flexibility makes the neck vulnerable to pain and injury. Neck pain can be very bothersome, and can have various causes. The neck can be adversely affected by extended sitting, repetitive movement, accident, falls or trauma to the body or head (including whiplash), normal aging, and everyday wear.
Muscles react to trauma by tightening, leading to muscle fatigue. This can result in pain and stiffness. Severe whiplash can injure the joints of the neck, the discs, ligaments, muscles, or nerve roots. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash.
Without chiropractic care, the older one gets, the more susceptible one is to the following: degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease.
Osteoarthritis, a common joint disorder, causes progressive deterioration of cartilage. The body reacts by forming bone spurs that affect joint motion.
Spinal stenosis causes the small nerve passageways in the vertebrae to narrow, compressing and trapping nerve roots. Stenosis may cause pain or numbness in neck, shoulder, or arm when these nerves are unable to function normally.
Degenerative disc disease can cause reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Over time, a disc may bulge or herniate, causing tingling, numbness, and pain that radiates into the arm.
In daily life, poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt spinal balance, causing the neck to bend forward to compensate. Stress and emotional tension can cause muscles to tighten and contract, resulting in pain and stiffness. Postural stress can contribute to chronic neck pain with symptoms extending into the upper back and the arms.
The doctors at Binder Family Chiropractic will perform a detailed examination of your body that includes digital radiographs, neurological and orthopedic examinations. These examinations are designed to help the doctor definitively determine where the root causes of your symptoms are. He/she will also ask you questions about your current symptoms like the following:
- When did the pain start?
- What have you done for your neck pain?
- Does the pain radiate to other parts of the body?
- Can you identify anything in particular that reduces the pain, or increases it?
Your doctor of chiropractic will perform physical and neurological exams.
In the physical exam, your doctor will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, noting any movement that causes pain. Your doctor will feel your spine, note its curvature and alignment, and feel for muscle spasms. A check of your shoulder area is also in order.
The neurological exam will consist of testing your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread.
Your chiropractor might order tests to help diagnose your condition. An x-ray can show narrowed disc space, fractures, bone spurs, or arthritis. A computerized axial tomography scan (a CT or CAT scan) or a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) can show bulging discs and herniations. If nerve damage is suspected, your doctor may order a special test called an electromyography (EMG) to measure how quickly your nerves respond.
Chiropractors are conservative care doctors, meaning their scope of practice does not include using drugs or surgery. If your chiropractor diagnoses a condition outside of this conservative scope, such as a neck fracture or an indication of an organic disease, he/she will refer you to the appropriate physician or specialist. He or she may also ask for permission to inform your family physician of the care you are receiving to ensure that your chiropractic care and medical care are properly coordinated.
Although our doctors at Binder Family Chiropractic LLC may ask you about your symptoms, it is the goal of the clinic and each of our doctors to find the root cause of those symptoms. Treating the symptoms while ignoring the cause of those symptoms will never make you well.
A neck adjustment (also called a cervical manipulation) is a precise procedure applied to the joints of the neck, usually by hand. A neck adjustment works to improve the mobility of the spine, reduce inflammation, and restore range of motion. It can also increase flexibility and movement of adjoining muscles. Patients typically notice an improved ability to turn and tilt the head, and a reduction of pain, soreness, and stiffness.
Of course, you are not limited to only one treatment technique. You and your chiropractor will develop whatever combination of techniques your individual situation and needs warrant.