Struggling with Neck Pain in Overland Park?
Are you suffering from neck pain in Overland Park? Most people don’t realize that your head is 14-16 pounds balancing on a very flexible stick. The amount of flexibility in the neck, along with the fact that the neck has the least amount of muscle stabilization in the whole spine, means that the neck can be injured very easily.
Neck Pain In Overland Park
Your spinal cord runs through your vertebra and has many branches called spinal nerves, and these are the nerves that send impulses to every part of your body. Some of these bundles of nerves go down the arms and upper back. This means that if you experience pain in the upper back or symptoms in the arms and hands such as numbness, tingling, cold, or pain, the problem could actually be the neck!
Many times these symptoms can be confused with carpal tunnel syndrome, which is common in people who work with computers or sit for their work. These extended periods of sitting and repetitive motions can lead to neck pain, but also contribute to headaches and muscle spasms. In fact, a multitude of symptoms can occur in the neck and even cause problems elsewhere in the body.
Neck Pain Treatments
The neck, also known as the cervical spine, is a pretty amazing thing. Beginning at the base of the skull and containing seven vertebrae the seemingly delicate cervical spine manage to support the head, which, on average in an adult, weighs 10-14 pounds. Your neck also allows you to move your head in almost every direction. Unfortunately, it is this flexibility that makes the neck so susceptible to injury and pain.
Neck pain, which will affect 8 in 10 American adults at some point in their life, can, at best, be bothersome and at worst debilitating. And there is no one cause of it.
As neck pain can impact your life on a daily basis, you owe it to yourself to so more to try and treat it than rely on ice packs, aspirin, and wishing it away. Effective neck pain treatment does not have to involve surgery or heavy narcotic drugs though, there is, for most people, a safer, gentler way; chiropractic care.
Chiropractors make great use of neck adjustments when treating neck pain. A neck adjustment - which is also sometimes called a cervical manipulation - can do several different things. It can be used to improve the mobility of the neck and help restore a better range of motion and it can also increase the function of adjoining muscles. In more basic terms after they are treated in this way, many patients notice that their ability to turn and tilt their head is increased and there is a noticeable decrease in pain and stiffness.
Common Causes and Symptoms of Neck Pain
Achiness/Stiffness: The neck has several regions, and in particular the middle and lower neck can become stiff and sore easiest. When we sit for long periods at a computer, we also put uneven wear and tear on the neck that leads to early degeneration. When the joints in your neck begin to degenerate (also known as arthritis of the spine), they become stiff and sore unless the problem is fixed.
Headaches: Did you know that 90% of headaches are preventable and fixable? A large number of headaches are caused by misalignments of the neck, causing muscles to spasm and placing pressure on the spinal nerves. This extra pressure and stress on the nervous system cause headaches. Frequently, the headaches may occur at the base of your skull and feel like it is traveling to the forehead like a band of “tension”. These headaches respond very well to conservative treatment of the misaligned neck.
Muscle Spasms: When the neck is injured or is unstable, the muscles must pick up the slack and support the neck. This is very common after a whiplash accident, but can also occur with poor posture. When the spine is not stable, our muscles contract to guard the joint and important spinal nerves. Over time, the muscle becomes strained and causes pain. If the joints in the neck are restored to normal function, then the muscle can relax.
Loss of Mobility: The neck is unique in that it has so many ranges of motion, more so than any other region of the spine. After repetitive motions, such as sitting office work at a computer, the joints become overused and misaligned with a form of arthritis. Because our necks have so many emotions, they are at a higher risk to have arthritis until it becomes difficult to turn your head or look in a certain direction. Fortunately, this motion can be restored through non-surgical methods.
Disc Bulges: Between your vertebra is a circle of cartilage called a “vertebra disc” that helps with mobility and flexibility. Once someone begins to develop arthritis of the neck, we usually see a disc bulge or a disc herniation. This most commonly happens in the lower neck, and the bulge places pressure on your spinal nerves and causes other problems.
Typically, a disc bulge will send symptoms down the arms and hands that are easily confused with carpal tunnel syndrome, or the symptoms may go down your shoulder blade with a deep achiness. Disc bulges and herniations come in grades, but can be improved and even prevented without the need for surgery.
The causes for these symptoms are by a number of factors and are usually a combination of several causes. Most causes of neck pain are chronic in nature, meaning they grow slowly over time until they are in a more advanced state. It is important that neck pain is addressed early to avoid spinal surgery and medications in the future.
Injuries: The most common injury to the neck is whiplash, which is a sudden movement of the head that damages the supporting muscles and ligaments. Even a 10 mph fender bender has enough force to cause whiplash.
Usually, the symptoms can take weeks or months to develop, and some research even shows symptoms can develop a few years after a motor vehicle accident because of the long-term damage to the supporting ligaments. Injuries can take time to manifest in the neck, and unfortunately, some damage may be permanent if someone waits for symptoms to develop.
If you have a motor vehicle accident or any other kind of injury, be sure to get checked out and don’t just assume you weren’t really hurt!
Poor Posture: The way we sit and stand is also one of the main causes of neck pain and even headaches. Many of us carry these bad habits without even realizing it - how often do we see someone staring down to text on their phone or read a book in bed with their neck curled forward.
Many of us also have “anterior head carriage”, which is typical of office workers and people who work on computers. Have a friend or family member look at your profile. If your head juts forward past your shoulders, you may have the anterior head carriage.
Misalignments of the Spine: Because our necks are meant to be mobile, a misalignment of the vertebra changes the way we turn our heads or look up and down. This uneven pressure and wear on the vertebra eventually lead to arthritis and pain. This is also a major cause of muscle spasms in the neck, as our muscles must work overtime to try and keep the neck stable.
These misalignments occur in several regions of the neck. Where the base of your skull meets the neck, at the middle of the neck where the stresses of gravity are the greatest, and at the base of the neck as the cervical spine transitions into the thoracic spine.
While you need a professional to check for misalignments, you can sometimes see changes for yourself if you look in the mirror. Are your ears level when you are standing naturally? Is one shoulder higher than the other? These misalignments can get worse over time as the body tries to adapt to the instability.
Stress: Today’s world is very fast-paced and high-stress. When we are in a stressful situation, our muscles will unconsciously contract, particularly in the neck and shoulders. This is a defensive response called “muscle guarding”, and helps your body protect important structures such as spinal nerves.
Modern Life: Most people’s busy lives are not always very kind to their neck. Poor posture when working at a desk all day, excess body weight, stress and emotional tension can all translate into chronic neck pain and sometimes into back pain as well.
Chronic muscle spasms develop trigger points that are painful to the touch. Physical stress (injury, labor), emotional stress (feelings), and chemical stress (diet) all affect our bodies and the tension in our muscles. When the physical effects of stress are decreased, the muscles can relax and relieve the pain in the upper back and neck.
Degenerative Disease: As we age, humans become more susceptible to degenerative disease and some of them can directly affect the cervical spine. Conditions like osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease can all cause chronic neck pain.
If you are suffering from neck pain, personalized consultation with a chiropractor may be the beginning of the relief you’ve been seeking. At Nigus Chiropractic & Acupuncture, we take the time to develop individualized treatment plans for every patient we see, so why not call or contact us today and get back on the road to a pain-free neck?
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