Neck Pain Treatment: An East Greenwich RI Chiropractor’s Perspective
The primary purpose of your neck is to support the full weight of your head - which on average weighs 10-12 pounds - while maintaining the flexibility to allow for movement. We know that for every inch forward that your head travels it becomes 10 pounds heavier. We’re all built differently, but women are almost 1.5 times as likely to have neck pain. Women tend to be more stable in the hips and less stable in the shoulders, while men tend to be more stable in the shoulders and less stable in the hips. Are you suffering from neck pain in East Greenwich RI? Contact our team today for help!
About Neck Pain in East Greenwich RI
About 75% of your health is controlled by your lifestyle, which means how you live your life is a big contributor to your neck pain. In our sedentary society, poor posture - from excessive electronic device use - is one of the most detrimental contributors. We spend an average of four hours a day on our phones, for those working at home remotely it may be as much as eight to 12 hours a day on their phones or sitting in the same position at their computer. Your sleeping position can also aggravate your neck pain. Poor biomechanics, meaning the way that you move, influences the way that your body functions. Posture is a practice. The way you move can either contribute to the cause of your neck pain or to getting rid of your neck pain.
Neck pain can also be caused by acute injuries or degeneration. Acute injuries happen suddenly, a surprising sudden motion, a slip and fall, or a car accident. Degeneration is an accumulation of micro-traumas over time. This is why it’s critical to get checked out at the first sign that something is wrong. Not maintaining your spine’s wear and tear will make injuries and degeneration harder to treat. Lack of motion is the key cause of degeneration in the spine. Chiropractors locate areas of your spine that aren't moving and functioning properly and restore motion in those areas to increase mobility and circulation, prevent arthritis, and ultimately heal your neck pain.
An acute injury may be related to the muscles and typically resolves quickly, but, as chiropractors, we want to address why this muscle issue is happening in the first place. Chronic issues tend to be more subtle. They accumulate gradually over time and increase in severity the longer you go without treatment. 30% of neck pain cases develop chronic symptoms, which is why you need to address them quickly. It's much better to quickly get on top of a problem when it starts than to let it go on for years and years without knowing the true cause. We often find that the longer someone goes with neck pain the longer it takes them to get better.
How We Treat Neck Pain
Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
With any new patient, we’re always going to start with a comprehensive consultation and exam. We want to get a detailed health history including past and current injuries, like slips and falls or accidents, that may be contributing to your condition. It's our job to really listen to you, to understand the full picture of what is going on, so that we’re able to be as specific and gentle as possible with our care.
We’ll conduct chiropractic, functional, orthopedic, and neurological exams which allow us to get to the root cause of your problem. We want to be able to address why the problem is happening, rather than just manage the symptoms. By knowing exactly where and what the problem is we will become a partner in your health and help you get on top of and resolve the issue that you’ve been dealing with for too long.
“To see is to know, to not see is to guess.”
We will never guess when it comes to your health. We want to know exactly what's happening in the underlying condition of your spine.
We're going to assess the curve in your cervical spine to ensure that your head, shoulders, and nervous system are working together like a spring rather than a spike. This will help alleviate muscle tension, spinal misalignments, and nerve irritation to keep you comfortable throughout the day. X-rays will show us the alignment of the vertebral bones and show us the health of your spinal discs. We’re going to look at your disc spacing to assess how much cushion you have in your spine, how much margin for error you have in your spine, and the amount of room the nerves have to relay signals from the brain to the body.
It’s critical that we know exactly what we’re dealing with before we begin care. We always want to know your exact situation before taking care of you. That is one of the many things that sets our office apart. This is why we take X-rays on every patient with neck pain.
Specific Chiropractic Care
Chiropractors address subluxation in the spine. Subluxation is a misalignment of the spine that places pressure on the nerves. Our spine protects our nerves as they travel down our back and then out to every area of our body where they control what is happening. We want to make sure that those misalignments in your spine don't cause nerve pressure or irritation as that will ultimately lead to pain and dysfunction.
By making a careful correction, realigning the vertebra and taking pressure off of the nerve, we're able to fully harness the healing power of the body to address the dysfunction. Chiropractic adjustments will gently address misalignments, restore mobility, improve circulation, relieve pressure on and stimulate the nerves, and prevent arthritis. This will allow your spine to function properly so that your body can function properly. We know that proper function and structure are paramount to how you feel on a day-to-day basis. We’ll ensure both of those things are taken care of so that you can eliminate your neck pain.
Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan
Therapeutic exercise will speed up the healing process, reinforcing the care we’re giving you and helping you get faster results. We're looking for muscle weakness and imbalance. We're looking for things like Forward Head Posture. As we've mentioned before, for every inch that your head shifts forward you add 10 to 15 pounds of weight that your neck has to support. This is what occurs most often in people who spend long periods sitting, especially during work. The imbalance of the muscle’s strength causes your neck to travel forward and the excess weight on your head and neck will place stress on your spine, nerves, muscles, and ligaments.
We’ll customize a plan for you based on what we learn during your functional assessment to address your unique situation. You’ll be able to access the plan through our user-friendly online exercise portal. Obviously, we will be helping you in the office, but this plan allows you to take ownership of your health and continue your recovery at home. It’s important to learn not only how to improve your condition, but also how to avoid aggravating the problem.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
Bulged Cervical Disc
Neck pain arises for a variety of different reasons. One of the main causes of neck pain is a bulged cervical disc. Spinal discs are the cushion between your vertebrae, acting both as a shock absorber and as a spacer for the nerve to exit the spine and travel throughout the body. The majority of a spinal disc is made up of water making them prone to injury and dehydration over time through stress, wear and tear, and repetitive bad habits.
The exterior of the disc is made of a rigid fiber with a gelatinous nucleus on the inside. When the fibers that house the disc begin to tear, the nucleus takes the path of least resistance, typically backward into a nerve. A bulged cervical disc is very, very painful, so painful that the neck pain can radiate into the arms all the way down into the tips of the fingers. Discs not only control how you feel, they also control how you function. The nerves in the cervical spine (the neck) allow the brain to receive sensory input from the skin and to send motor controls to the muscles. They also help innervate the head, face, shoulders, arms, and hands.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is an age-related condition that happens over time as discs break down. Degenerative disc disease is caused by a host of factors, but obesity, smoking, and physically demanding work, like construction, desk work that involves long periods of sitting, and heavy physical labor, can also contribute.
The “window” of each spinal disc, where the nerve exits the spine to travel throughout the body, is called the foramen. When the discs shrink, the foramen gets smaller. Much like a bulged disc pushing on the nerve, the shrinking of the foramen puts pressure on the nerves and causes similar nerve irritation. Degenerative disc disease is different because it can't fully be reversed, its progress can only be slowed. The goal is to get you to the point where your everyday habits and activities don’t cause you stress and pain, and we can absolutely do that.
In this new age of technology, we're constantly looking down at our devices or hunched over a computer at our desks. This causes a condition known as Forward Head Posture which increases stress on the neck. Imagine holding a bowling ball straight up in the air with your arm bent and then imagine holding the ball out in front of you. Which way is more challenging? This is the process that happens as your next begins to lose its healthy cervical curve. This is why a healthy cervical curve is so important, it acts as a spring for the weight of your head and calms down your muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Tech neck pain is typically dull and achy, localized in the neck, and intensifies with movement, though it can also be exacerbated the longer you're sitting in an aggravating position like at your desk all day at work.
Osteoarthritis, or arthritis in the bones, happens because of a lack of motion and bad biomechanics over a long period of time. When you have a lack of motion, your body is unable to decrease inflammation. Over time, the body recognizes this as instability and will continue to lay down bone to create some stability. This will cause the formation of bone spurs which can irritate the spinal nerves and cause neck pain.
Whiplash is commonly caused by car accidents or sports injuries when your head is thrown forward and then backward rapidly. It causes traumatic stress on the muscles, ligaments, tensions, bones, and nerves. Any whiplash treatment will assess the structure of the cervical curve as whiplash can often cause the spine to straighten. If this is not addressed, it can lead to long-term chronic issues because a loss of the cervical curve means a loss in the spinal cushion and increased stress on the spine. Whiplash can cause issues beyond just pain, like blurred vision, difficulty sleeping, memory problems, and even daily headaches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Oftentimes, chiropractors are seen as the last resort, not the first option. Chiropractic is great for neck pain because we address the root cause of the issue instead of trying to cover it up with pills, injections, or surgery.
While neck pain is common, it is absolutely not normal. At the first sign of neck pain, you should go and see a chiropractor to make sure that your spine is functioning properly.
While massage is great for neck pain, chiropractic focuses on the root cause of the neck pain. Typically the root cause is the spine which houses the nerves that control the entire body. So while we recommend massage in many cases for muscle-related issues, seeing a chiropractor first is always the best option.
We work with many different specialties, including medical doctors, to get on top of and resolve neck pain. This includes but is not limited to massage therapists, physical therapists, personal trainers, medical doctors, and the like.
Chiropractic is a covered service by most insurance carriers. We will do a complimentary benefits check to let you know exactly what your coverage is and how we can help. We will let you know the cost of care before we proceed.
There are many ways to relieve neck pain in the short term, including stretching and exercising, however, it is recommended that you see a chiropractor for a detailed consultation, history, exam, and X-rays to get to the root cause of why your neck is hurting in the first place and get the care that will provide long-term neck pain relief.
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9:00am - 12:00pm
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9:00am - 12:00pm
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9:00am - 12:00pm
3:00pm - 6:00pm
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