CHIROPRACTIC FOR NECK PAIN
Does Seeing a Chiropractor for Neck Pain Work?
When seeking a chiropractor for neck pain in Anchorage or Juneau, it’s important to find the right professional that can help you. In fact, you may not even know if a chiropractor is the right choice for your neck pain. And since there are many causes of neck pain, it’s important that you choose the medical professional that will fit your needs.
As specialists in the spine and the musculoskeletal system, chiropractors are uniquely suited to diagnose and effectively address neck pain. Studies show that chiropractic care is continually effective in reducing neck pain in both the short and long term. And a multi-disciplinary approach has seen excellent results among patients.
How Can a Chiropractor Help With Neck Pain?
During your visit, a chiropractor for neck pain will perform an exam to help locate the source of the pain by asking several questions and any remedy you may have tried. Your chiropractor may also want to do neurological and physical exams. The physical exam involves an examination of posture, physical condition, and range of motion.
After noting any movements that cause pain, the doctor will then feel your spine to note curvature and alignment. It’s normal for the doctor to check your shoulder area, as well. During the neurological exam, the neck pain chiropractor will then check muscle strength, reflexes, pain spread, and nerve changes.
Another study published back in 2004, found similar results. This study found that patients who saw a chiropractor regularly for four weeks experienced clinically significant improvements in both low back pain and disability. Spinal manipulation and other chiropractic modalities were used.
What Studies Say About Chiropractor for Neck Pain?
Before we go any further into this article, let’s talk about the proof that chiropractic care helps with neck pain. There are more studies published all the time about the benefits of chiropractic care for all kinds of pain, but the following studies focus on neck pain above others.
Evidence-Based Chiropractic Treatment
This study sought out evidence-based treatment options for neck pain by looking at 41 randomized control trials. The authors of the study found that commonly used chiropractic methods saw positive outcomes when treating patients with acute and chronic neck pain.
They especially found that multimodal approaches worked best. This coincides with our philosophy at Better Health and our multimodal approach to treating neck pain.
Benefit vs. Risk of Chiropractic Care
A prospective, multicenter, cohort study, published in 2007, sought to analyze the overall safety of chiropractic care for neck pain and to weigh the benefits against the risks. Over 500 patients participated in the study, and there was follow-up after the first three visits, at three months, and at 12 months.
Nearly half of the participants who returned for a fourth visit reported that they felt “much better” or “completely improved.” Most of the other participants reported recovery at either the three-month or the 12-month follow-up.
The study also found that the benefits outweigh the risks, especially since there were “No serious adverse events recorded during the study period.” This supports many other studies concluding that neck adjustments are safe.
Chiropractic Care vs. Medication
We would be remiss if we didn’t address medication in this article about neck pain. Many people who experience neck pain tend to use medication for relief. Whether they use over-the-counter medication or stronger prescription medication from their physician varies. Still, before you decide who to see about your neck pain, keep this information in mind.
A study published in 2012 in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared the effect of spinal adjustments, medication, and home exercises on people with acute or subacute neck pain. Each group was treated for 12 weeks with different techniques.
Spinal adjustments and home exercises both fared better than medication in treating neck pain both in the long and short-term. Spinal adjustments had the most beneficial effect of all three.
This is one reason why as a chiropractor at Better Health Juneau, I combine spinal adjustments and home exercises for best results. All of our chiropractic modalities are safe, non-invasive, and drug-free. And as studies like these show, they’re also effective.
When to See a Chiropractor for Neck Pain?
If your neck pain is due to an accident or injury, you should go to the hospital emergency room first to ensure that there is no neurological damage or fractures to the vertebrae. Neck pain often comes on gradually, sometimes occurring only at night, other times in the morning, and for many people, it becomes chronic, where neck pain is fairly consistent. If you are experiencing neck pain that has a definite pattern (every morning, for example) or if it has remained consistent despite your efforts to find relief through other methods, for more than 7-10 days, it’s time to make an appointment with a chiropractor.
Neck pain is difficult to live with. While nearly everyone suffers from a stiff neck now and then, regular pain is not normal and should be addressed as soon as possible.
Why Do Chiropractors Crack Your Neck?
We often get patients with neck pain asking about neck “cracking.” Maybe they’ve seen a YouTube video of someone having their neck adjusted by a chiropractor with an audible crack. Or maybe they’ve just heard urban legends about cervical chiropractic care.
In reality, the cracking or popping sound that sometimes happens during a neck adjustment isn’t any cause for concern. This is simply the sound of gas escaping from the joints in the neck. It’s the same concept as cracking your knuckles, your back, or any other joint.
- Chiropractors don’t aim to “crack” anyone’s joints, but it happens from time to time.
- The cracking sound is normal and isn’t painful or dangerous.
- Most cervical adjustments are gentle yet forceful.
- Neck adjustments are very safe.
Neck Pain: Chiropractor or Massage?
There are a number of different chiropractic neck adjustment techniques out there. So when you’re considering seeing a chiropractor or a massage therapist for your neck pain, there’s a lot to consider. But it really shouldn’t be a one or the other choice. In fact, for best results, you should seek out both chiropractic care and massage therapy. Both have been shown to:
- Reduce pain
- Promote healing
- Relieve stress
- Improve sleep
- Speed recovery
At Better Health, we combine chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical therapy under one roof. We know that these three modalities complement each other and give our patients the best treatment for their neck pain.
Everyone’s pain is different, so one person may benefit more from regular massage in addition to chiropractic care while another person may benefit more from physical therapy and spinal adjustments. Our doctors tailor each treatment plan to the patient, making sure everyone is getting the best treatment possible at Better Health.
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Chiropractic Treatments for Neck Pain
A chiropractor for neck pain will treat you based on the cause. Your doctor may develop a program combining multiple forms of treatment depending on personal needs. Below are some options often used.
1. Cervical Adjustments
A cervical adjustment is a procedure applied to joints of the cervical spine, mostly by use of hands. The neck adjustment works by improving mobility and restoring range of motion. Patients normally notice improved ability to tilt and turn head and a reduction of stiffness and pain afterward.
2. Cervical Mobilization
It involves the patient lying on his or her back relaxed while a neck pain chiropractor manually moves the vertebra in the cervical spine from right to left and vice versa while alternating side-to-side motion with a figure eight movement. The degree of the treatment varies, moving the head backward, forward, side, and in rotation.
This is a non-thrust type of stretch, its goal being to reduce fixations or points of restricted motion. An oscillatory movement using hands is frequently used during neck mobilization.
3. Cervical Manual Traction
The chiropractor does this when the face of the patient is facing upwards while lying down or sitting. The chiropractor then gently pulls the neck stretching it, varying the angle between extension and flexion based on comfort while looking for the correct angle in order to reduce the tightness. Many chiropractors use this with mobilization, switching among the two or both simultaneously.
4. Cervical Drop Technique
The patient will either be lying on the side or on the stomach on a special table with a head drop-piece being lifted into a locked position. The chiropractor then places fingers over the spinal segment requiring adjustment. A medium to high velocity, non-thrust increasing downward pressure, or low amplitude thrust is applied.
This is done until the headpiece of the table releases dropping at a short distance. The primary aim is to reduce the fixation of cervical vertebrae with help from the motion table. There’s no rotation or twisting of the head during a traditional adjustment.
Manual therapies may also treat neck pain. They include:
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy – It uses special instruments in diagnosing and treating muscle tension
- Therapeutic massage – It helps relax tensed muscles
- Trigger point therapy – It is used to ease tight and painful points on a muscle.
- Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques – Help in reducing neck pain and other signs and symptoms.
Therapeutic exercises may be recommended, which help improve the range of motion in the neck and also prevent neck pain from progressing. The listed above are only examples: the actual treatment plan depends on the diagnosis.
Can a Chiropractor Help With Neck Pain and Headaches?
Neck pain and headaches often go together. After all, a lot of headaches originate in the neck area, making them even more common when you have neck pain. Luckily, chiropractors can help with both neck pain and headaches. There are a couple of ways chiropractors do this:
- Spinal Adjustments
- Posture and Lifestyle Tips
- Massage Therapy
- Neck Exercises
Neck pain is often accompanied by shoulder pain. Some neck pain can cause numbness or discomfort down the shoulders and arms. This is usually due to a pinched nerve in the neck. If you do have shoulder pain, a chiropractor can help.
Neck and shoulder pain are usually—but not always—interconnected. Like neck pain alone, the combination of neck and shoulder pain has a variety of causes. Some of these include:
- Posture issues
- Sports injuries
- Car accident
- Spinal misalignments
- Sleeping awkwardly
No matter what caused your neck and shoulder pain, you can get a thorough diagnosis from a chiropractor and a plan for treatment. If your chiropractor doesn’t think they are suited to treat your pain, they will recommend someone who can help you.
When searching for a chiropractor for neck pain in Anchorage or Juneau, Better Health has the expertise and the track record to help you. From manual adjustments and massage therapy to physical therapy and exercises, we can help you get rid of neck pain naturally. We’ve helped thousands of Alaskans get back to their active lives without the terrible pain they’d been living with before coming to Better Health.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment. You’re in better hands at Better Health Chiropractic.
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Related articles by our founder, Dr. Brent Wells:
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