Your neck or cervical spine consists of 7 vertebrae. More than 20 muscles in your cervical spine bear the weight of your head in addition to other activities. Since your neck is flexible, it’s more prone to pain, dysfunctions, and trauma.
If you are suffering from chronic neck pain, it could be due to multiple reasons, including poor posture, sleep issues, stress, and trauma. As chiropractors specialize in dealing with dysfunctions and pain throughout the spine, you can consult them for your problem.
However, below are the key factors you must consider before deciding. So, let’s get started.
What Do You Know About Chronic Neck Pain?
Neck pain or chronic neck pain is also known as cervicalgia, in which you may feel pain in or around your neck and spine beneath the head. It could be a sign of different injuries and medical conditions. Generally, neck pain is of two types: localized neck pain and cervical radiculopathy.
You may experience pain in particular neck regions if you have localized neck pain. While in cervical radiculopathy, you may feel radiating pain that may extend toward your fingers, depending on the site of injury. Additionally, it might be chronic or acute.
Although neck pain is not a severe problem, if you don’t treat it immediately, it may disturb your quality of life and daily activities.
Symptoms of Chronic Neck Pain
You may experience the following symptoms when you have chronic neck pain.
- Muscle tightness or spasms in specific areas of your neck
- Unable to fully move the shoulder
- Your fingers and arm may feel numb and tingly
- Worse pain by keeping the neck in a specific direction for a long period
- Decreased ability to move your neck and head properly
- Shooting, stabbing, or burning pain
- You may feel tenderness in your neck upon touching the affected area.
- Chronic neck pain may cause fatigue.
- In rare cases, you may face difficulty swallowing
Causes of Chronic Neck Pain
You may suffer from chronic neck pain due to the following reasons.
Poor posture is the main cause of your chronic neck pain. You may get chronic neck pain by failing to maintain an upright posture directly over your neck or “forward head posture.” Every time you hyperextend your neck forward, you get a 10-pound stress on the joints and muscles of your neck.
Therefore, if you keep your neck forward all over time, it may remain in stress and become prone to disabilities, leading to chronic neck pain.
Sometimes, you may feel pain in your neck right after traveling. It could be due to a whiplash injury that occurs due to sudden forceful movements resulting in lurching your neck in one direction and rebounding in the opposite direction.
Whiplash can overstress the muscles of your neck, which results in sudden contraction and tightness. Consequently, your neck muscles remain fatigued and painful.
Muscle strain is the most common cause of chronic neck pain. It can result in neck stiffness, tightness, and poor mobility. There are several reasons for strain in your neck, including:
- Poor sleeping pattern
- Sleeping in a prone lying position with outstretching of both arms
- Using a pillow with poor ergonomics while sleeping
- Lifting heavy weight
- Prolonged use of computer and mobile phone
- Keeping your neck in the same position for a prolonged time
While there are multiple reasons for neck strain, these are the most likely ones.
Although disc herniation is most common in your lower back, it can often occur in your cervical spine, resulting in an outpouring of the internal structure of your cervical vertebrae. Your cervical nerves may compress as a result of disc herniation, and you feel severe pain.
This type of pain may radiate towards your arm and fingers due to the nerve roots. You may also feel pain in your shoulder blades while turning or bending your neck due to disc herniation.
Poor sleep can result in muscle tightness and contraction. When you can’t maintain good sleep and wake cycles, your neck muscles may not get a proper chance to relax, resulting in fatigue.
Moreover, lack of proper sleep can reduce your pain threshold, making you sensitive to mild painful stimuli. Poor sleep can increase your stress level and muscle stiffness, resulting in chronic neck pain.
Text Neck Syndrome
It is the most common cause of chronic neck pain in adults. Text neck syndrome occurs due to the overuse of cell phones which results in overstretching of your neck muscles. It may result in headaches, neck discomfort, arm and shoulder pain, and breathing difficulties.
Although it’s not proper medical terminology, poor neck posture while using cell phones results in neck pain.
Progressive degeneration of cartilage in your cervical vertebrae is known as osteoarthritis. The continuous degeneration in your cervical vertebrae results in the formation of bony spurs.
These bony spurs place pressure on your cervical nerves, resulting in severe pain. They can also reduce friction by rubbing against other bones, which may cause neck pain.
Narrowing of the tiny nerve passageways between vertebrae causes spinal stenosis, which compresses and traps nerve roots. It can cause pain in your neck and shoulder. Additionally, due to nerve compression, you may feel numbness and tingling throughout the nerve root from neck to arm.
Diagnosis of Chronic Neck Pain
Your doctor can make a diagnosis of your neck pain by the following steps:
- History: Medical history is the base of any diagnosis. During history, your doctor may ask you several questions, including the site, pain, duration, and aggravation of pain. He may also perform multiple tests during the objective assessment to make a proper diagnosis.
- Physical examination: After taking the history, your doctor will observe the physical appearance of your neck. He may also test the range of motion of your neck to reach the proper conclusion.
- X-Ray: It is used to check the proper alignment of your cervical vertebrae, fracture, and disc-slip.
- MRI and CT scan: Both are used to check the detailed view of spinal nerves and tissue. However, a CT scan is an advanced tool to check the comprehensive view.
- Nerve conduction tests: These are used to get a detailed view of your cervical nerve functioning.
- Lab tests: These tests include a complete blood count (CBC) and urinalysis to check the presence of any infection.
How a Chiropractic Treatment Can Help Chronic Neck Pain?
A chiropractor is a person who specializes in spinal adjustment and manipulation. If you are suffering from chronic neck pain, you can consult Champion Wellness Centers of Valrico, to get the following treatment.
Spinal Neck Adjustment or Manipulation
Spinal neck adjustment or manipulation is a technique to realign the cervical spine by hand. It helps in the improvement of mobility and range of motion of the spine, resulting in the reduction of neck pain.
You may feel improvement in your neck mobility, pain, and stiffness after adjusting your spine with a chiropractor.
Chronic neck pain may also occur due to the formation of muscle knots in your neck. It may form due to overuse or stress of your neck muscles. Chiropractors can perform myofascial release or massage with their palms, elbows, and fingers to release these muscle knots.
Flexion Distraction Technique
It is the process of applying pressure to the spine to reduce inflammation and resolve disc herniations and bulges. It is a hands-on approach that does not require surgery. During this technique, your chiropractor can flex your neck and distract it suddenly to release the compressed nerves.
These exercises play a very crucial role in reducing your neck pain. Depending on the condition and the site of injury, your chiropractor can perform several neck stretching exercises. These include stretching your trapezius, pectoralis major & minor, latissimus dorsi muscles, etc.
Stretching exercises reduce stress and tightness in your neck muscles and give an instant relief of pain.
The most common causes of neck pain are poor ergonomics of your chair, bed, and table. Chiropractors can advise you on the best chair and table dimensions. Moreover, they can also advise you to change your lifestyle to improve your poor body posture.
Benefits of Chiropractor Treatment
You may get the following benefits after getting the chiropractor treatment:
- You may restore the proper alignment of your cervical vertebrae.
- It can help relieve neck pain and inflammation by decreasing tension in your neck muscles.
- You may feel improvement in your neck posture and range of motion after getting chiropractor treatment.
- Spinal manipulation can help in the reduction of headaches due to chronic neck pain.
- Improves the proper functioning of your spinal nerves.
Other Chronic Neck Pain Treatment
Besides chiropractors, you may get the following treatment to reduce your neck pain.
- Medications: Your doctor may prescribe you non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve your pain and inflammation and muscle relaxants to reduce fatigue and to relax your neck muscles.
- Physical Therapy: It can reduce neck pain through electrotherapy and therapeutic exercises. In electrotherapy, a therapist can use various modalities, including electrical stimulator, ultrasound, hydro & cryotherapy, while in therapeutic exercise, he can perform different exercises to reduce neck pain and swelling.
- Acupuncture: The experts in this field insert thin needles in the affected areas to reduce tightness, swelling, and pain.
- Surgery: Although surgery is not a common practice to reduce neck pain, you may get it if your cervical vertebrae are shifted from their place.
How to Cure Chronic Neck Pain?
Using heat and cold therapy, along with some stretching exercises, can help treat chronic neck pain at home. Additionally, you should alter your lifestyle to avoid neck tightness and stiffness for long-term pain relief.
How to Relieve Severe Neck Pain on the Left Side?
To relieve neck pain on the left side, you should take a warm-water bath, do some stretching exercises on the left side, and use a neck pillow for support. You can also do some neck massages and cold or hot compresses to ease your neck pain.
How Do You Fix Chronic Neck Tightness?
You can use ice and heat therapy to reduce your neck tightness. Do icing or heating on the affected side for 10-15 minutes to reduce neck stiffness. Moreover, self-stretching of the neck can also help fixate your neck tightness.
Will Chronic Neck Pain Go Away?
Yes, chronic neck pain will go away, depending on the condition. If it is due to neck stiffness or tightness, it can vanish on its own within ten to fifteen days. However, if it is prolonged due to other issues like fracture or herniation, it may take several days, depending on healing.
Chronic neck pain is one of the most common issues that can impact your quality of life. It may occur due to several reasons, including muscle strain, poor posture, herniation, osteoarthritis, etc.
A chiropractor is an expert in treating spinal and muscular issues, so you can consult Champion Wellness Centers of Valrico for your neck issues. Our experienced chiropractors know the complexities of neck pain and offer the best non-conservative treatment to reduce your neck discomfort.
So, don’t let your neck hinder your quality of life. Hit us up and take the steps to ward off your chronic neck pain.