Nothing is more frustrating than waking up in the morning with a pain in the neck. We have all been there, and nothing prevents you from getting work done, enjoying outdoor activities or even relaxing like that burning, sharp, radiating or achy neck pain. In fact, cervical spine pain will make you think about calling your chiropractor quicker than almost anything else – and for good cause. Not only are we trained to quickly diagnose cervical conditions, chiropractic treatments are highly effective at reducing symptoms and correcting the dysfunction.
Crick in the Neck
Back to that annoying “crick” in the neck you woke up with. You went to bed feeling seemingly normal and woke up with limited range of motion, a relentless stabbing sensation and perhaps a minor headache to boot. What went wrong? Sometimes bed bug bites… err only kidding. Awkward cervical positions caused by a pillow that is too flat or too thick, a strange mattress, restless sleep or even an unrecognized motion dysfunction causing a repetitive use injury could be the culprit. Add in a heavy dose of stress from any one of life’s many sources and you have a cocktail for that uncomfortable morning “crick”.
Sprains & Strains
Another common injury that chiropractors deal with on a daily basis are sprains and strains to the cervical spine. Sprains involve damage to a ligament which holds the spinal bones together around joints. Strains, on the other hand, are like really small muscle tears. Both injuries lead to swelling, pain and difficulty moving the head and neck, muscle spasms, headaches and plenty of frustration to go around. Sprains and strains are caused by any number of factors including: whiplash, repetitive use, motion and posture dysfunctions, falls on the mountain bike or on skis, mishaps at the gym, or even sleeping as mentioned above.
Disc Herniations & Pinched Nerves
Chiropractors also deal with more severe injuries like disc herniations, disc bulges and pinched nerves. We are more than qualified to treat these ailments as conservative care specialists. These injuries are serious and need to be treated in order to prevent further degeneration and arthritis in the spine. Many times, disc bulges affect spinal nerves causing radiating or shooting pains. Sometimes these injuries require referral to medical doctors who can use MRIs to further diagnose the severity and prescribe steroids to reduce symptoms. We are trained to recognize when this is necessary and to act accordingly.
So, what does a doctor of chiropractic do for these conditions? First, we are highly trained diagnosticians. We spend time collecting all the information we need to make an accurate assessment. Next, we thoroughly examine the area using orthopedic and neurological tests, motion and postural evaluations, and hands on palpation of all the tissues involved. The goal of these assessments is to determine an appropriate course of treatment for the given diagnosis. We are also screening for more serious ailments like fractures, spinal instabilities, disc injuries, stroke and many other less than pleasant diagnoses. What is important to remember is we are trained to diagnose any and all conditions and make sure we send you to the right specialist.
Treatment almost always involves manual therapies like Active Release Techniques®, Graston®, or myofascial release to loosen up the muscles, ligaments and other tissues involved. These therapies act to restore function and motion, prepping the tissues for healing. Additionally, chiropractic adjustments address motion loss to the various joints in the neck. Adjustments are powerful tools that chiropractors have undergone extensive training to perform safely. Simply put, if something is not moving properly or is “stuck”, it often feels “out of place” or “misaligned”. We restore that motion with an adjustment. If the area is inflamed or too painful to work on using manual therapies, interferential stimulation is used along with either ice or heat depending on the situation. You have probably seen those small portable TENS units before. If that unit is Bruce Banner, our unit is the Hulk. It generates frequencies that reduce pain, force inflammation out of the area and reduce muscle spasms. Above and beyond the treatment modalities, we build each patient a “toolbox” which they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. We teach you how to stretch, stabilize and strengthen your neck and correct bad movement and posture with therapeutic exercises.