For many people, neck pain is a minor part of life, occasionally flaring up and being mildly annoying. However, some neck pain sufferers barely know an hour without the pain, and their pain can lead to other issues such as headaches and migraines, or upper back pain.

Neck pain is an unfortunate side effect of everyday life and aging, but when your neck pain is prolonged or severe, it isn’t normal.

Whether you suffer from occasional neck pain after a day spent hunched over your desk, or you deal with nearly constant neck pain that makes it hard to concentrate, you may be looking for safe, effective relief.

What Causes Neck Pain?

There are a variety of conditions that can cause you to experience neck pain.

Your neck is flexible and supports the weight of your head every day, meaning its muscles and tendons are susceptible to strains and injury. 

Here are a few of the common causes of neck pain:

Muscle Strains

If you’re over-using the muscles in your neck, such as when you spend hours hunched over a computer or looking down at your phone, they can become strained and sore. Even things you wouldn’t think can cause muscle strain, such as reading a book or gritting your teeth when you’re stressed, can cause strains in your neck muscles.

Worn Joints

Just like the joints in your knees and hips, the joints in your neck can become worn down as you age. If you suffer from osteoarthritis, this can cause the wear and tear to be more pronounced, as this condition causes the cartilage between your vertebrae to deteriorate, leading to painful bone spurs.

Nerve Compression

If you have a condition or have suffered an injury that has caused herniated disks or bone spurs, the nerves in your neck can become compressed. This compression can cause pain and inflammation in your neck, and also may limit your range of motion.

Injuries

Rear-end auto accidents and sports-related accidents can lead to whiplash, where the neck is snapped rapidly and can lead to ligament and muscle damage in the neck. Though these injuries aren’t directly related to impact on the neck, they can cause severe pain and discomfort in the neck and shoulders.

Diseases

Some diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, and cancer, can cause neck pain.

 

What Are Some Symptoms of Neck Pain?

Pain and soreness in your neck is a definite sign that you’re suffering from neck pain. However, neck pain can also be accompanied by other symptoms, including:

  • Pain that worsens if you hold your head in one position for a long time, such as when driving or working at a computer
  • Muscle tightness or spasms
  • Decreased ability to move your head
  • Headache

How Is Neck Pain Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of neck pain is less about determining whether or not you have neck pain, and more about the potential cause of the neck pain.

Most neck pain will decrease or go away entirely if given enough time. You need to see your doctor if your neck pain is the result of an injury, or if you experience any of the following:

  • Your neck pain is severe
  • Your neck pain persists for several days without relief
  • Your neck pain spreads down your arms or legs
  • You also experience headache, numbness, weakness, or tingling

When you first see your doctor with neck pain, they likely will take a full health history and ask a variety of questions regarding your pain. These questions may include asking if you’ve experienced an injury that could be causing your pain, how long you’ve experienced the pain, whether anti-inflammatories or other methods have helped decrease your pain, and whether your pain is impacting your ability to participate in your regular daily activities.

Your doctor next will conduct a full physical exam, which will include checking your vitals and testing your neck for mobility. 

Depending on the findings of the physical exam, your doctor may send you for further diagnostic testing. This testing could be blood or other lab tests to rule out an underlying disease, or it could mean you’re sent for X-rays, CT scans, or other imaging.

These tests may help your doctor find a definitive cause of your neck pain, but they also may help your doctor rule out causes. 

This can be a long process, but it’s best to comply as fully as possible with your doctor’s orders for further testing and examination so you don’t miss a step and a potential diagnosis.

 

 

How Is Neck Pain Treated?

Depending on the cause of your neck pain, your doctor may recommend one or a variety of treatments for your neck pain.

Some things you may be recommended to treat your neck pain include:

  • Medications: These can include both prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and muscle relaxers.
  • Heat and cold alternating: You can reduce some of the inflammation related to neck pain by placing ice packs on your neck for 20 minutes at a time, and alternate with 20 minutes of heat from a heating pad.
  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist can teach you proper posture, alignment, and neck-strengthening exercises to help alleviate and prevent future pain.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): Electrodes are placed on your skin near the areas where you’re experiencing pain, and small electric pulses are sent into the muscles in the hopes of relieving your pain. TENS therapy can be conducted in an office setting or at home.
  • Traction: Traction uses weights, pulleys, or an air bladder to gently stretch your neck. This therapy must be done under the direction of a doctor or physical therapist, and can be especially helpful if the source of your neck pain is related to nerve root irritation.
  • Short-term immobilization: You may be given a soft collar to wear to help support your head, taking pressure off your neck. This therapy only should be done for very short periods of time, usually fewer than three hours at a time or for less than one to two weeks, as it can do more harm than good if practiced for longer periods of time.
  • Steroid injections: Your doctor may send you for corticosteroid injections to help alleviate your pain, and these are injected into the muscles or small facet joints in the bones of your cervical spine.
  • Surgery: If you have very severe neck pain that’s related to an injury or other condition, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the problem and alleviate your pain.
  • Acupuncture: Small needles are inserted into the surface of the skin in the areas where you experience pain, which can reduce your neck pain.
  • Massage: Neck pain can provide short-term relief from neck pain, especially if it’s related to tight, sore muscles.
  • Chiropractic: Some neck pain is related to misalignment of the spine and neck, causing strain on the muscles and ligaments. A chiropractor gently re-aligns the spine to correct these irregularities, decreasing the pain and inflammation.

How Can Chiropractic Care Help with Neck Pain?

In many cases, neck pain is caused by strain on the muscles and ligaments of the neck due to poor positioning and misalignment of the spine and neck.

These misalignments, or subluxations, can occur as the result of injuries, genetic conditions, age, or everyday life. 

Chiropractic care can find these subluxations, gently correcting them and bringing the spine and neck back into proper alignment. Your chiropractor gently cracks your back and realigns your spine, allowing your neck to properly, safely support your head and decreases the stress on the muscles and ligaments.

What Are Some Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain?

Chiropractic care is a safe, affordable way to relieve neck pain. Pain relief isn’t the only benefit of choosing chiropractic care.

Here are some other benefits of chiropractic care for neck pain:

Treats Other Conditions

Because chiropractors can help treat pain and misalignments throughout your body, choosing chiropractic for your neck pain also can help relieve pain and inflammation you may experience related to back pain, headaches, leg numbness, shoulder pain, or other conditions.

Non-Invasive

Some of the treatments for neck pain, including surgery and steroid injections, can come with their own side effects and additional pain.

Chiropractic care, on the other hand, requires only a simple office visit for an adjustment. The less invasive the procedure, the less chance that you’ll develop other related issues, making chiropractic care safe.

No Drugs Needed

Many people rely on pain relievers, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatories to alleviate their neck pain.

However, when you choose chiropractic care, you can get many of the same effects without having to take medications. These medications can have their own side effects, meaning you have more problems and conditions you may need to treat along with the neck pain.

What’s Involved in Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain?

While you may experience relief of your neck pain from the first chiropractic treatment, you likely will need multiple appointments to fully correct the issues related to your neck pain.

Here’s what you can expect when you choose chiropractic care for your neck pain:

Evaluation and Treatment Plan

The first step toward treating your neck pain with chiropractic care is getting evaluated by your chiropractor. This helps them understand what sort of treatment you may need, how frequently, and to establish goals for your care.

Your chiropractor will take your full medical history and may request medical records from any other providers who have evaluated or treated your neck pain. This phase includes asking questions about the type, location, severity, and frequency of your pain, as well as any things you may have done to help treat your pain.

If you haven’t had imaging tests such as X-rays or CT scans and the chiropractor thinks having them may be beneficial to your treatment, they may refer you to get this imaging done. This helps give your chiropractor an idea of what your spine looks like prior to treatment, and to see if there are any obvious misalignments to correct.

Your first appointment also should include a physical examination and initial adjustment. You may feel relief after this first adjustment if you came in with neck pain.

Your chiropractor then develops an individualized treatment plan for you, which will include the frequency you should receive adjustments, any at-home care and exercises, and a plan for your treatment goals.

As you go through your treatment for neck pain, your chiropractor should review and revise this treatment plan depending on how you respond to treatment and any new goals you may have.

Treatment

This phase makes up the bulk of your chiropractic care.

Depending on the severity of your pain and your treatment goals, you may see your chiropractor multiple times a week until you get to a more stable place with your pain. Your chiropractor may also give you instructions for exercises or adjustments to do at home to help support your treatment.

Maintenance

Once you’ve gotten to a place where your chiropractor feels you’re at maximum improvement from your symptoms, you will move into the maintenance phase.

During this phase, you still will see your chiropractor for maintenance adjustments, but not as frequently as when you were in treatment. 

Maintenance chiropractic care is designed to keep your spine and neck in good alignment, preventing the recurrence of your neck pain.

Get Neck Pain Relief at Eugene Family Chiropractic

Don’t let your neck pain stop you from doing the things you love. Get safe, effective, affordable treatment with chiropractic care from Eugene Family Chiropractic. Our chiropractors carefully evaluate your symptoms, developing an individualized plan for treatment of your neck pain, aiming to get you as pain-free as possible fast. Schedule your first appointment today!