A large majority of people will experience neck pain or stiffness on occasion. This is usually due to overuse or extended periods of poor posture, and the pain typically subsides within a few days. Neck pain can also be caused by slips, falls, sports injuries, car accidents, whiplash, concussion, and any other number of possible traumas.
The neck is a complicated puzzle of bones (vertebrae), muscles, and ligaments that work together to keep your head upright and give it the ability to move around in all directions. An abnormality with any of these components can lead to neck pain, stiffness or discomfort. While we may be able to cope with this every so often for a day or two, when neck pain becomes chronic it can be an extremely frustrating condition.
What Can Be Causing My Neck Pain?
Because there are so many moving parts that make up the neck, the source of pain can differ greatly from person to person. While there are some very serious causes of neck pain, such as tumors or infections, these are quite rare compared to the more common causes we will address below:
- Whiplash injury – whiplash occurs when the head suddenly moves back and forth with great force. Whiplash is most commonly associated with a rear-end car accident, but that’s not the only way it can happen. Whiplash can also occur as a result of a sports-related injury, amusement park rides, and other slip-and-fall type accidents. Whiplash damages the soft tissues of the neck and can become chronic when not properly taken care of.
- Sprains or strains – no different than spraining your ankle, the ligaments of your spine can be stretched and muscles can be strained. Similar to whiplash, this can be caused by a number of circumstances that lead to neck injury and pain.
- Bulging or herniated disc – the discs that separate each of your vertebrae contain a jelly-like substance in the center that can bulge or herniate through the outer rings of the disc. This can not only be extremely painful, but can also put pressure on the spinal cord of the nerve roots that branch from it. This can lead to numbness and tingling down the arms and into the hands and fingers.
- Tension headaches – tension headaches are the most common headache type. They can not only cause hat-band like pressure around your head but can also cause neck pain and pain behind the eyes.
- Fibromyalgia – people who suffer from fibromyalgia typically have widespread aches and pains throughout their bodies, but neck and shoulder pain is a very common complaint. Fibromyalgia is associated with tender points that can cause extreme pain when manipulated.
- Osteoarthritis – sometimes called cervical spondylosis, arthritis in the neck can cause pain the typically worsens as the day goes on. The vertebrae that make up your spinal column are connected by many joints, and through injury or wear and tear the cartilage in the joints can wear thin which can cause discomfort and limit range of motion.
- Spinal stenosis – the passageway for your spinal cord within the spinal column can narrow, which can put direct pressure on areas of the spinal cord or the nerves that branch from it. This can happen because or arthritis, chronic inflammation, or other underlying conditions.
- Spinal misalignments – the vertebrae in your neck are designed to move, especially at the top of your neck in the upper cervical region. This is what allows us to move our heads to look in all directions. However, there are times when a vertebra can misalign slightly, creating abnormal movement, inflammation, pain, and possibly interfere with normal nerve function.
Lasting, Drug-free Relief from Neck Pain
If you’ve suffered from neck pain of any duration, you’ve likely tried many avenues in order to find relief. There are many natural methods to care for neck pain; you can try ice, heat, stretching, strengthening exercises, and various other conservative care options. Most people know that chiropractic care can help with neck pain, but there is a specific branch of chiropractic care called upper cervical chiropractic that helps people to identify the root cause of their condition. As upper cervical chiropractors, we focus on the area of the neck that forms the junction between your neck and your head. The vertebra in this transitional area is called the atlas.
The atlas vertebra is completely different from all the rest of your spine, and that’s because it serves a different purpose. Whereas the rest of your spine is designed to be relatively stable, your atlas is made for motion. Because it is so freely movable, it can also be prone to misaligning easier when you’ve experienced some sort of injury. When the atlas misaligns it then begins to affect the rest of the neck beneath it. This can be an overlooked source of a lot of neck problems, especially since the pain might be experienced in other areas of the neck.
At Gilbert Wellness Center, we recognize that no two cases of neck pain are alike. That is why we take the time to make a very specific analysis of each individual. Once we are able to pinpoint the underlying cause of the pain, we are able to gently and precisely correct the misalignment without any forceful twisting or popping of the neck. Upper cervical chiropractic adjustments are designed to hold in place for as long as possible so that you can experience relief of pain as well as an improvement in function.
To schedule a free consultation with Gilbert Wellness Center call 515-278-0456