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A pain in the neck

| By Dr. Debbie Tan (Chiropractor)

image-blog-a-pain-in-the-neck

The neck contains the cervical spine, which forms the top 7 vertebrae of your spine. Above this is your skull and below this is your torso (also known as your thoracic spine).1 An average weight of a head is around 4.5-5 kg. Due to its heavy weight, is common to see individuals with neck pain due to the flexibility of the neck.

Some risk factors for neck pain are stressful life events, depression, poor general health and obesity. More mechanical risk factors of pain are sitting for a long period of time, or twisting and bending the body in different postures.2

The most typical causes of neck pain are:

Muscle strains – Staying in a position for too long, such as driving, being at your desk, sleeping awkwardly, watching a movie/concert. This strains your neck into a certain position and the ligaments and muscles work ‘overtime’ to keep your head upright. This when you suddenly move, it makes you all too aware of the pain.3

Injury and Accidents – Motor vehicle, workplace and sporting injuries are also common causes of neck pain. As the neck is a vulnerable area, the sudden shifting of loads can cause the muscles, ligaments and joints to overload and elicit pain. For example, whiplash can occur during rear-end collisions when the head is suddenly jerked backwards.3

Worn joints – when the neck is overused over time in a poor position the effects may present as degeneration. For example, osteoarthritis causes the degeneration of the cartilage in between the joints. As the cartilage is worn down and eroded, abnormal mechanical stress on the joint surfaces cause the formation of bony appendages. This is quite common in the seniors and elderly as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease is more prevalent at this age.3

Doctors of Chiropractic have studied 5 years in University to diagnose the causes of neck pain and ways to treat the pain and educate clients in ways to lower the risk of reoccurrence. Chiropractors spend 5 years on the technique of spinal manipulation which yields great results for neck pain. Research has shown that the mobilization and/or manipulation of the neck with exercise improved function and reduction in pain.4 Treatment of chronic neck pain using stretching, endurance and strengthening exercises have also found to be effective in treating the condition.5 Through a multimodal approach, chiropractors are able to effectively treat neck pain. Therefore, it is highly recommended to visit chiropractor to treat your neck pain.

 

  1. McKinley MP, O’Loughlin VD, Pennefather-O’Brien E, Harris RT. Human anatomy. Fourth ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015.
  2. Ferrari R, Russell A. Neck pain. BestPract Res Clin Rheumatol [serial online]. 2003 [2016 Sep 24];17(1):57-70. Available from: ScienceDirect. http://www.sciencedirect.com/
  3. Borenstein DG, Wiesel SW, Boden SD. Low back and neck pain: comprehensive diagnosis and management. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2004.
  4. Plastaras CT, Schran S, Kim N, Sorosky S, Darr D, Chen MS, et al. Complementary and Alternative Treatment for Neck Pain: Chiropractic, Acupuncture, TENS, Massage, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Feldenkrais. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am [serial online]. 2011 [2015 Sep 25];22(3):521-37. Available from: ScienceDirect. http://www.sciencedirect.com/
  5. Bryans R, Decina P, Descarreaux M, Duranleau M, Marcoux H, Potter B, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for the chiropractic treatment of adults with neck pain. JManipulative Physiol Ther. 2014;2013;37(1):42. doi: 1016/j.jmpt.2013.08.010
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