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  • Writer's pictureDr. de Castro

How To Deal With Your Neck Pain

Neck pain is incredibly common

Most, if not all of the patients I see in the office have some level of neck pain, or headaches...even if it isn't their main concern.

There are many things that can contribute to these pain episodes, including prior injuries, stress, postural imbalances, trauma, heavy lifting, sports, jaw issues and the list goes on. Neck pain can be experienced in different ways, including sensations like aching, burning, sharpness, tightness or shooting pains. Everyone has a different experience, but it can all have an impact or our lives.

Proper diagnosis is key. Having a full history and exam done can help us decide what tissues are involved, if advanced imaging is needed, and likely what kind of treatment modalities can work. My fellow chiropractic colleagues and I are experts when it comes to this, with a full arsenal of questions, tests, and treatments that can come together for an individual plan for you.

Desk Jobs. Sitting for long hours. Driving long hours. Breastfeeding. Poor posture.

What do these things all have in common? Patients tend to experience the same kind of pain pattern at the base of the neck and into the shoulders by the time their day is done. This tends to be explained as tight, achey, even sometimes burning sensation in these areas. This is called Upper Cross Syndrome, which may sound scary, but it really isn't. It is a muscular imbalance that tends to come from chronic positions and postures. Certain muscles are tight (the chest and the back of the neck) were the ones across from them are weak (neck flexors and mid-back muscles)

Having a program that stretches and strengths the correct muscles the correct way, as well as integrating hands-on treatment can help keep this pain at bay!

Neck Pain and Car Accidents

Many patients who have been in a car accident complain of neck pain, which may be caused by a whiplash injury...a fast acceleration/deceleration that can cause a whipping like movement to the neck and head. What really happens is that the muscles get strained, the ligaments get strained, and in very serious and rare cases bones can even fracture.

Turning the head can be painful, headaches may be frequent, and the pain may linger longer than you'd like. Injuries like this, especially when tied to an emotional and traumatic event like a car accident can be more difficult to get rid of when compared to something non-traumatic, so talking to your provider about addressing the stress and anxiety that most often times happens post-accident can help reduce your pain.

What if it isn't just muscle?

Sometimes, neck pain goes deeper than posture, or a muscle strain. One of this is discogenic pain. This results when the disc between each vertebrae suffers damage, either from repetitive trauma, or one instance of trauma. This discs are cushions, helping with shock absorbption and to allow the movement we see in the spine. Whether it is a wear and tear issue, or you suffered an injury, a full assessment will tell us if this is the cause of your pain. You may feel some achenes, but it could even be leading to numbness and tingling into your hands.

Sounds scary, but chiropractors are GREAT at dealing with disc issues, it's one of the things we're known for. First, we work on the pain and inflammation, overall helping you feel better so we can then go to the next step, which is rehabilitative exercises. This helps rebuild and prevent anything from being injured in the future. Everyone is different, so the plans will look different from person to person. And sometimes, rarely conservative care isn't enough. If that is the case, you will get referred to a surgeon for an assessment.

What do you mean it's my jaw?

Sometimes, neck pain and even headaches can be caused by something else...your jaw! Jaw pain and dysfunction can lead to radiating pain to the neck and head. This hinge joint can cause locking, clicking, popping and snapping if not moving correctly, if the ligaments are in bad shape or if the muscles around it are tight and not doing the job. You can be getting treatment of your neck for months, but if no one asks about the jaw, the pain might not be getting better! We can do exercises, muscle work and even adjust the jaw! Though usually some good quality muscle work can do the trick...and yes, that means we work intramurally (read: fingers inside the mouth, like your dentist). Cool right?

So you've learned tonnes about neck pain, causes and what you chiropractor can do for you. But before you leave, check out some stretches that may help with your daily soreness

Have a pain in the neck you're sick if living with! Check out my main page for information on how to book!

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