Even though you’d be hard pressed to meet someone who has never experienced neck pain, that doesn’t mean that suffering with ongoing pain is normal. There can be many reasons why your neck hurts, and that pain can come in various forms. Some neck pain is dull and always present to some degree, or it can be sharp and triggered by certain motions. Regardless, there are some common causes of neck pain, including:
- Muscle strain – sore, tender muscles can be a result of poor posture, stomach sleeping, excessive smartphone use, or even grinding your teeth.
- Nerve compression – bone spurs or disc herniations can irritate the nerve roots that branch off the spinal cord in the neck. This can cause neck pain with pain that radiates through the shoulder and down into the arm and hand.
- Joint degeneration – the joints in your neck can deteriorate over time due to injury or wear and tear. This can compromise range of motion and cause pain.
Getting to the Root Cause of Neck Pain
Your neck is designed to be both strong and flexible. It must be strong to bear the weight of your head and flexible enough to be able to move your neck through all of the normal ranges of motion. Your head sits atop a small bone called the atlas. The atlas is the most freely movable vertebra of the entire spine. This is both good and bad – we need the atlas to move so we can rotate our heads, but this also leaves this area vulnerable to misalignment. If the atlas is not bearing the weight of the head correctly, it can cause pain and problems lower down in the neck.
Upper cervical chiropractic is a niche within the chiropractic profession that focuses on atlas alignment. This is not only important to keep the neck moving properly, but it is also crucial to keep the atlas aligned so that the brainstem can work normally. The brainstem is responsible for many of our life-sustaining functions, including digestion and blood pressure regulation. An atlas shift can not only cause neck pain, but it can cause these functions to be performed at less than optimal levels. If an atlas misalignment is the root cause of your neck pain, the upper cervical approach will help you to achieve lasting, natural relief. Adjustments are gentle, specific, and designed so that they hold in place for as long as possible, giving your body the necessary time to heal.