The human cervical spine, commonly called the neck, is an intricate part of the body. It contains more than a half-dozen vertebrae, but it has to prop up the skull’s entire weight. That means this short piece of the spine not only supports a 12-pound head but works to move it about in all directions. The neck is one of the body’s most flexible and versatile parts. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most frequently injured sections of the entire spinal column.
Whenever we make lots of repetitive motions, sit for long periods, fall, suffer an accident, or do anything that involves the neck, we’re open to the chance to become injured. There are hundreds of ways people hurt their necks, some of which result in severe pain, injury, or both. Chiropractic physicians are specialists when it comes to all kinds of neck pain. If you are suffering from acute discomfort in the cervical spine, it’s essential to see a chiropractor as soon as possible.
Most neck pain gets worse without treatment. It’s important to understand the type of neck pain you have, its source, and how to get treatment from a qualified professional. Chiropractic care is the most effective way to address acute neck pain.
Understanding Your Acute Neck Pain
When you visit a chiropractor, you’ll gain a thorough understanding of your physical situation, particularly as it pertains to your acute neck pain. During a physical examination, the doctor will begin by speaking with you and finding out when you first noticed the pain, whether it “travels” to other segments of your body, what attempts, if any, you have made to alleviate the pain on your own, and whether specific kinds of movements make the pain worse or cause it to subside.
What do chiropractors look for during a physical or neurological examination? All sorts of things, actually, including your range-of-motion, your standing and sitting posture, any movements that feel painful for you, your overall physical condition, and more. After carefully examining your spine to determine its exact alignment, shape, and curvature, the doctor will check to see if you’re experiencing muscle spasms.
You’ll also have your reflexes evaluated, your shoulders examined, and your general physical strength assessed. There’s much more to the initial exam than that, but those are some of the more common parts of the process for patients who complain of acute neck pain.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to run a few tests to pinpoint the causes of the pain. For example, your chiropractor might order x-rays to see whether any bone fractures exist, if any discs are damaged, or if you are suffering from arthritis. In addition to x-rays, the chiropractor might order an MRI or a CAT scan to investigate herniated discs and other subtle problems. To find out about nerve damage, some doctors will order EMG tests to see how efficient and rapid your nervous system responds to stimulus.
For the doctor, understanding your pain, its source, and effective treatment methods are some of the main goals of a chiropractic exam. If you need medical attention for something like a fracture or a disease, your chiropractor will be sure to refer you to a specialist or back to the physician of your choice. Anytime you want your chiropractic exam results sent to your family doctor, you’ll need to give your chiropractor permission to do so. That’s because your confidentiality is a primary concern when you receive chiropractic treatment or evaluation.
How do chiropractors evaluate your condition? Here are some of the things you’ll likely encounter during an exam:
- Evaluation of your range of motion
- A complete assessment of your sitting and standing posture
- An interview that includes your complete medical history
- Determination of your general physical condition
- Careful, detailed manual examination of your spine
Causes of Acute Neck Pain
One thing many people wonder about is, “What caused my neck pain?” It’s a fact that a large percentage of patients have no idea how their acute neck pain began. That’s understandable because the muscles in the cervical spine are delicate and easily injured. Besides, it’s easy to suffer a neck injury and not notice the pain for a day or more. What are the most frequent causes of neck pain? Here are some of the ones chiropractors deal with most often:
- Osteoarthritis: This common disorder is specific to the joints and can lead to long-term degradation of the cartilage. To fight off the deterioration, the body creates numerous bone spurs. Finally, the spurs themselves cause pain and restricted motion in the joints.
- Aging: In addition to osteoarthritis, noted above, other age-related conditions that can cause acute neck pain include degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis. It’s a fact of life that as we age, all our physical systems begin to operate less efficiently. Keeping a close eye on your health is one of the best ways to catch small problems and prevent them from becoming serious.
- Accidents/injuries: Whiplash, a common result of being in a vehicle accident, is a common source of neck pain. It can occur when your neck and head are “whipped” in opposite directions very rapidly. The human body can only take a certain amount of stress like this. That’s why so many people show up at chiropractors’ offices after car accidents. Falls are another source of neck injuries and can be quite serious depending on the amount of impact the body receives and the patient’s age.
- Routine daily events: People typically place their necks into a forward position to compensate for an imbalanced spine. A few of the causes of this type of imbalance include under-developed abdominal muscles, ineffective posture, being overweight, muscle tension due to emotional duress, and more. When people suffer from any stress-induced postural problems, the pain can spread to the arms and back.
Choosing the Right Course of Action
If you are suffering from neck pain, no matter the cause or level of severity, it’s important to get treatment as quickly as possible. Waiting can only make things worse. Dr. Tim Ciolkosz, at the Spinal Health & Wellness Pike Creek Sports Medicine Center, specializes in neck pain, whiplash injuries, headache relief, scoliosis treatment, and low-back pain relief. Dr. Ciolkosz can perform a full evaluation to determine the source and severity of your pain. After that, he will write up a treatment plan that is tailor-made for your specific situation.
Dr. Tim Ciolkosz specializes in scoliosis treatment, whiplash injuries, headache, neck pain and low back pain treatment. With over 20 years of experience under his belt, you and your family are in great hands. Contact Dr. Ciolkosz’s office at (302) 993-9113 and begin your treatment program today. New patients are always welcome at Spinal Health & Wellness.
Don’t let neck pain slow you down. If you have neck pain, procrastination is not a wise course of action. Instead, take action by getting in touch with a competent specialist as soon as possible.