pain affects a significant number of individuals. Recent studies
have found more than 10% of Americans suffer from neck pain
at any given time.
The reason is that the neck region contains many delicate,
pain sensitive structures commonly exposed to abuse and abnormal
stresses. Incomplete rehabilitation of past injuries, poor
posture, prolonged sitting, and lack of periodic spinal alignments
are some of the more common factors in the development of
Fortunately, most individuals suffering from neck problems
will find chiropractic
care extremely beneficial. Unlike prescription drugs, most
chiropractic procedures address the cause of the majority
of neck problems. Best of all, chiropractic care is safe,
natural, and noninvasive... no side effects allowed!
Within the neck lies the cervical spine, the upper most portion
of the spinal column. The cervical spine is structurally and
functionally unique from the other areas of the spinal column.
Structurally, the cervical spine is composed of 7 moderately
small and unique vertebrae including associated muscles, ligaments,
joints and nerves.
The cervical spine has many important functions which include
providing support and mobility to the head and neck, providing
essential information for the balance and coordination of
the body, and protection for the upper spinal cord and associated
Generous Amounts of Motion
The cervical spine is the most flexible region of the spine,
providing the most generous amounts of flexion, extension,
lateral flexion and rotation.
The 1st and 2nd cervical vertebrae, known as the atlas and
axis respectively, have highly unique structures which allow
them to form a pivot joint. This joint alone provides approximately
90 degrees of rotation in the cervical spine. These same vertebrae
also contain special receptors within their joints which provide
the brain with important information essential for the maintenance
of balance and coordination. These mechanoreceptors results
in balance disturbances and problems with coordination.
The remaining cervical vertebrae also provide large degrees
of motion but mainly in flexion, extension and lateral flexion
(side bending). Unfortunately, there's an inverse relationship
between mobility and stability. Thus, the cervical spine is
more susceptible to injury compared with other areas of the
Nervous System Protection
The cervical vertebrae immediately encase and protect the
spinal cord as it descends from the skull.
The spinal cord travels through small holes in the rear of
the cervical vertebrae, giving rise to spinal nerve roots
at each vertebral level. These nerve roots exit through the
small openings formed by adjacent vertebrae called the intervertebral
foramina (IVF). The IVF is the "exit" out of the
cervical spine as spinal nerves make their way to the head,
face and arms. The IVF is a common location for nerve irritation
and can give rise to a variety of head, neck and upper extremity
symptoms in the cervical spine.
The Spinal Nerves
The nerves exiting the cervical spine are delicate and can
become irritated or injured, giving rise to a number of different
signs and symptoms.
The 1st through 3rd cervical nerves exiting from the cervical
are responsible for providing sensations to the head and face.
When these nerves are compressed, stretched or irritated they
will cause pain and other altered sensations in regions of
the head and face. Researchers have found irritation to the
2nd cervical nerve (the greater occipital nerve) to be a major
source of head and face pain. The nerves from the mid and
lower cervical spine combine to form the brachial plexus,
a collection of nerves which innervate the arms. Compression,
stretch or irritation to these nerves commonly cause pain,
numbness, tingling and weakness in the arms.
CAUSES OF NECK PAIN
There are many causes for neck pain. Some causes result from
acute injuries which cannot be avoided, such as an automobile
accident resulting in a whiplash-type injury. Other causes
can be avoided and result from the use of "bad"
or improper habits and techniques, such as poor posture and
improper lifting. These "other causes" make up the
majority of neck pain causes and can be effectively treated
once the cause(s) is/are identified and the appropriate measures
to avoid these "bad" and improper habits and techniques
Some of the more common causes of neck pain include:
- incomplete rehabilitation of past injuries
- lack of proper and periodic spinal alignments
- presence of cervical spine subluxations
- whiplash-type injuries
- improper workstation setup
- poor posture
- prolonged sitting
- prolonged use of non-ergonomically designed equipment
- excessive repetitive neck motions
- improper telephone techniques
- excessive mental stress
- physical inactivity
- poor diet and nutritional practices
NECK PAIN TREATMENTS
Doctors of chiropractic
have long known that the most successful treatments involve
the identification and correction of the underlying causes
of the condition. That's why chiropractic care has been so
successful in the correction of back
and neck conditions and the number one choice for back and