The cervical spine (better known as the neck), which has seven vertebrae, has its origin at the base of the skull. The vertical spine holds up your head, a heavy ordeal considering it weighs quite a bit (several pounds). Your cervical spine is very flexible, and allows movement in many directions. However, this also makes it susceptible to pain and injury.
This vulnerability is due to the cervical spine's biomechanics. Many factors can influence your cervical spine's health. They include sitting for long periods, aging, and injury. Cervical pain is very uncomfortable, no matter what the cause is.
These factors are what contributes to cervical pain?
1. Injury and accidents: Whiplash, for example, stems from a forceful and sudden jolt of the neck or head; it prompts a rebound effect that can harm the tissues which support the head and neck. The ?rebound? reaction is how the muscles are responding to the strain. They do so by contracting. Contractions provoke pain, stiffness, and muscle fatigue. Acute whiplash cases are linked with intervertebral joint injury, as well as ailing nerve roots, muscles, ligaments, or discs. Whiplash is typically linked with car accidents.
2. Age-related Issues: Degenerative disorders can come in the form of osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and disc ailments that are associated with age. These affect the spine directly.
What spinal stenosis does is contract the vertebrae's nerve passageways. This, in turn, also contracts the nerve roots and hinders them. Along with cervical pain, spinal stenosis may also harm the arm and shoulder, making them numb and painful.
Degenerative disc disease also influences the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Over the long term, a bulge or a hernia could result in a disc. This could prompt tingling, numbness, and pain in the arm.
A common condition that causes progressive degeneration of cartilage, osteoarthritis forces the body to make bone spurs, hindering joint motion.
Some regular habits can also worsen issues with the neck. A poor posture and being overweight, for instance, modifies spinal balance, making it so the neck leans forward to compensate. Strain of an emotional nature, as well as stress, causes muscle tightness and compression, bringing pain and stiffness. Spinal stress can cause chronic neck pain, which then affects the upper back and arms.
A thorough evaluation of the experienced symptoms is employed in order to find out the exact source of the pain. Your chiropractic doctor could inquire about the length of time the patient has had the discomfort, the remedial approaches that has been previously tried, whether the discomfort has spread to other bodily parts, and what has helped offset the pain. Neurological examinations and physical tests may also be performed. These physical examinations could establish your posture, range of motion, and overall physical shape, at the same time that they reveal the types of movements that cause pain. The spine is examined manually in order to establish its alignment and precise curvature, and learn whether there are spasms in the muscles. The shoulders may also be examined.
The neurological examination will focus on the strength of the muscles, reflexes, and extent of pain. Some cases may also make it necessary to perform additional tests to diagnose the exact condition. Fractures, bone spurs, and a contracted disc space could be disclosed with an X-ray. A CAT or CT scan (axial tomography scan) or a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging test) reveals the location of a dilated disc. When nerve damage is possibly the cause of pain, an electromyography (aka EMG) could be suggested; this test evaluates nerve responsiveness.
Adjustments to the Cervical Spine: Manual adjustments of neck joints are what cervical manipulation usually entails. The goal of these neck adjustments is to improve mobility of the spine, and aid its range of motion. Neck adjustments may also aid movement of connecting muscles. Those who receive neck adjustments display added capability of moving their heads, in addition to experiencing relief of stiffness, soreness, and general pain.
Experts are in support of the use of chiropractic spinal adjustments in the care of patients who have ongoing neck pain. Clinical trials have demonstrated that those patients who have chronic cervical pain are greatly helped by spinal adjustments. Following weeks of treatment, the different trial groups demonstrated improvement of reported symptoms.
Every patient gets a personalized treatment regimen. The use of massage, rehabilitative exercises, and mobilization of the affected area could complement the treatment regimen. Make sure to contact your chiropractor. He or she will help you determine how to best treat your cervical spine.