“I was golfing a month ago (or at least trying to…) and I hit the ground too hard and felt a jolt in my neck. Since then, I can’t turn my head to the right, my right arm is numb, and I can’t sleep through the night. I went to my family doctor and he eventually gave me a muscle relaxer, an anti-inflammatory, and a pain pill. I can sleep better but I hate that groggy feeling I get in the morning and to be honest, the pain is about the same. Is there anything chiropractic can do for me?”
This type of case presentation is something chiropractors see all the time. Often, the treatment options offered by family doctors have side effects that can sometimes be more annoying than the condition being treated. So the question is, “what can a chiropractor do for neck pain?”
Neck pain is frequently caused by one or more of the seven vertebra in the neck shifting out of alignment and literally, getting stuck – losing its ability to bend and rotate when we move our head and neck. It’s like taking one worker away from a group of seven and asking the remaining six workers to do the same amount of work. This leads to all kinds of over-compensation in the other vertebrae and can even alter function in the mid-back, as well. Depending on which nerve(s) get irritated, problems can include headaches, shoulder blade pain, arm pain, numbness and/or weakness. Another common problem that occurs when neck pain is present are muscle spasms in the neck area. This is due to a reflex reaction where the brain receives the pain signals from the neck and in response, sends signals back to the muscles to tighten in attempt to protect the hurt area. This becomes a “vicious cycle” and may continue until the joint is unlocked or released, which is the purpose of the chiropractic adjustment.
Chiropractic treatment for these problems works great because it uses a physical (not a chemical) form of treatment to restore movement to the joint, which in turns shuts off the signals from the joint to the brain and in turn, the protective muscle spasm discontinues. Sometimes, the improvement is immediate but more often, several treatments may be required to complete the task. In general, the recovery time is shorter the closer to the time of injury you are treated, so obtaining an appointment immediately is wise. Your doctor of chiropractic can also show you methods to exerciseg the neck at home between treatments, which also speeds up the recovery time.