A Chiropractor’s Guide for Dealing with Chronic Neck Pain
Dealing with chronic pain can be draining, both physically and emotionally. A neck injury or chronic neck pain can leave you feeling tired, stressed and even depressed. Neck injuries and chronic neck pain can have many causes, and it's often difficult to know what the best treatment options are. If you've decided that it's time to seek relief for your pain, the first step is to get an examination by your locally trusted chiropractor.
Visit with a chiropractor, and you'll soon find that they have all the tools to give you a diagnosis and create a treatment plan to help you end your pain. Chiropractors use many different techniques and technologies when diagnosing neck pain. Chiropractors are trained to know which injuries they can help you with. A chiropractor can also help you know which injuries are in need of medical interventions, like surgery.
As with any kind of medical service, chiropractic care can seem costly. But don't let cost deter you from seeking help. Talk with your chiropractor and your insurance provider before starting treatment. Many insurance companies have coverage for chiropractic treatment and may cover most of the cost of treatment.
Types of Neck Injuries
The following is a short list of neck injuries and causes of chronic neck pain that are commonly seen and treated by chiropractors. This list may help you decide if seeing a chiropractor is right for you. This isn't a complete list, and there is always a chance that your injuries or pain are being caused by something more serious. It's important to get a proper diagnosis using imaging techniques or other tests that doctors or chiropractors can perform to help you understand your pain.
It's hard to admit, but as you age, your body degenerates. Muscles weaken, and the body slowly breaks down. As this happens, the aches and pains creep up on you and you begin to feel weary and sore. The same thing happens with every day activities. Poor posture, bad sleeping positions or just straining your neck by holding it in an odd position are all contributing to your neck pain. More often than not, the neck pain you experience as a result of daily life is caused by strained muscles and inflammation.
There are many different way to injure your neck while playing sports. It's important to know that impact sports can cause whiplash and strain injuries to your neck muscles. Falls and impacts experienced during athletic endeavors can leave you sore and in pain. Car accidents are also infamous for causing whiplash injuries. If left untreated, whiplash could cause permanent damage and lasting chronic pain. The symptoms of whiplash can take several days to appear after an injury, so be sure to get checked out after an accident.
Degenerative Disc Disease
As the body ages, the discs between the bones in the spine will slowly degenerate. Sadly, some people suffer from a more aggressive thinning of the discs and this causes them great pain. There is no way to reverse the damage caused by degenerative disc disease but reducing inflammation and stress on the joints can greatly alleviate the pain and discomfort. Chiropractic treatment can even help slow the progress of the disease. If left untreated, this disease can also cause painful bone spurs as well.
The spinal column is an intricately designed system of bone, nerves and discs. There is a narrow canal which houses the nervous system that runs the length of the spine. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of this column and is incurable. There are many suggested treatment methods including medication and surgery. Chiropractic care is a great treatment option, because it treats the inflammation causing your pain.
Stretches You Can Try
The most common types of neck pains are caused by repetitive strains or prolonged postures. Here are a few stretches that you can try at home to help alleviate any aches and pains in your neck. These stretches can help reduce the stress you put on your neck and help you avoid more serious, long-lasting pains.
Neck to Chest
This stretch will help you relieve the tension in your posterior cervical muscles. Place your hands over the top of your head with your finger tips latched together and your forearm near your nose. Then lower your chin to your chest and deepen the stretch by gently pulling down with your hand. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
The muscle group on the sides of your neck are called the scalene muscles. To get a nice, relaxing stretch, simply place a hand over the side of your head, with your hand near your ear, then gently pull your head down towards your shoulder. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Try repeating the stretch 3-5 times for each side.
The Between Stretch
The group of muscles between the posterior cervical muscles and the scalene are a little tougher to stretch. But this stretch for the levator scapulae has you covered. Turn your head to the right shoulder bend your head until your chin is close to your shoulder. Then gently deepen the stretch by reaching your right arm up and placing your hand on top of your head and gently pulling down. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Try repeating the stretch 3-5 times for each side.
The Shoulder Roll
The neck is directly affected by the shoulders and upper back. If you are feeling stiff from sitting at your desk too long, or you have a minor ache in your shoulders or upper back, it can translate quickly into neck trouble. Try shrugging your shoulders up and down slowly, or rolling them front to back 10-15 times. This can help loosen up any tension that is coming from your back to your neck or the other way around.
Avoiding the Kink
Stretching can be a great injury prevention method, but you should also remember to give your neck a break from time to time. Try standing up and walking around for a few minutes each hour. Take a break and think about how your posture is affecting the way you hold your head.
If you are going to be participating in a contact sport, use protective gear. Avoid activities that are likely to cause injuries in the first place. Stretching your muscles and warming up before an event can help reduce your risk of injury. Visiting a chiropractor for an adjustment can also help keep things loose and less likely to get hurt.
If you are an avid reader, be aware of the way you hold your book. Avoid looking down for too long. Our society is being plagued with far more neck and back problems caused by looking at our phones and other digital devices. Try bringing your device to eye level to reduce neck strain. Take frequent breaks and stretch your neck to avoid stiffness and inflammation.
Above all, seek regular chiropractic care to keep inflammation and swelling from causing you pain. Request an initial consultation with Dr. Smith today; you'll get the best care and treatment plan created for your individual needs.