Modern life can place the muscles and joints of the neck under considerable stress. Desk work, driving for long periods, poor posture or accidents resulting in ‘whiplash’ can all cause restriction and pain. Problems affecting the neck also commonly cause headaches or lead to restriction or pain in the upper back, shoulders and arm.Research has shown chiropractic care to be effective in treating conditions commonly affecting the joints and muscles of the neck. All the conditions listed below are seen regularly in the clinic. This information is designed to help, it is not a substitute to seeing a chiropractor or other qualified medical professional. In order to diagnose a problem effectively a full case history, orthopaedic examination, and neurological examination must be performed.
Headaches are defined as a pain anywhere in the head or neck and are often mistakenly thought of as a condition when in actual fact; a headache is a symptom of an underlying problem.
The most common types of headaches people experience are due to irritated neck joints (cervicogenic headaches) or a problem in the nervous system (migraines and tension headaches). Current research shows that chiropractic treatment has favourable results when treating people with migraines and cervicogenic headaches.
It is important to realise that headaches are a symptom and not a problem themselves. The cause of the headache must first be identified in order for them to be treated effectively.
Also known as cervicogenic vertigo
Like headaches, dizziness is a symptom of an underlying problem. Temporary dizziness can occur from low blood pressure, whereas more continuous dizziness occurs due to a problem in either the ears, eyes, or neck.
Cervicogenic dizziness, also known as cervicogenic vertigo, is characterized as dizziness caused by irritated (trapped) nerves at the top of the neck. Current research shows that chiropractic treatment has favourable results when treating people with cervicogenic dizziness.
It is important to realise that dizziness is a symptom and not a problem itself. The cause of the dizziness must first be identified in order for it to be treated effectively.
Irritated Neck Joints
Also known as cervical facet joint irritation or dysfunction
The neck, just like anywhere else in the body, moves through the use of joints. Each of these joints allows a small range of motion but when working together they allow the full range of motion that is seen when, for example, the head is turned.
Maintaining the same posture for prolonged lengths of time can cause the neck joints to become tight and potentially irritated that in turn can cause neck pain, upper back pain, arm pain, muscular tension and spasms, as well as headaches.
It is important to realise that a stiff and painful neck is not normal and that it is most likely because the spine isn’t functioning correctly.
Whiplash Associated Disorders
Whiplash describes a range of injuries involving the neck and upper back often after a road traffic accident. During a road traffic accident the neck goes through a violent motion of flexion and extension. The speed and force of this motion can cause an injury to the joints, muscles, ligaments, and/or nerves. This can cause neck pain, upper back pain, arm pain, muscular tension and spasms, numbness, pins and needles, as well as headaches.
It is important to understand that whiplash is a generalised term. In order to be treated effectively the extent of the injury must first be established.
Cervical Disc Injury
Also known as a slipped disc, disc prolapse, disc bulge or herniated disc
In between each of the vertebra in the spine is a disc. These discs are full of fluid and act as shock absorbers. If too much force goes through the spine (one heavy load or multiple light loads) then the fluid in the disc can escape and irritate the nerves. This can cause neck pain, upper back pain, arm pain, muscular tension and spasms, as well as numbness and pins and needles in the preceding areas.
It is important to realise that there are many names for a disc injury (slipped disc, prolapsed disc etc) but it all means the same thing. If the fluid in the disc is pressing on a nerve it will cause pain, the amount of pressure on the nerve determines the extent of the injury.
Arthritis in the Neck
Arthritis is a progressive disease that causes painful inflammation and stiffness of joints. Arthritis cannot be cured but the joints can be made more mobile and therefore less painful. With arthritis the joints become worn, which in severe cases leads to fusing of the vertebra. Increased mobility and decreased pain levels can be achieved with chiropractic care right up until the point in which the vertebrae fuse. Arthritis in the neck can cause neck pain, upper back pain, arm pain, muscular tension, as well headaches.
It is commonly thought that having arthritis in the spine means nothing can be done; however, this is rarely the case. It is first important to determine how much ‘wear and tear’ is present and whether the vertebrae have fused.
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