Neck pain is a fairly common condition. Most people will experience it at some point in their lives with women reporting slightly higher instances of chronic pain. Pain medication often is the first line of defense against neck pain but it doesn't solve the problem and many drugs carry the risk of harmful side effects. Chiropractic treatment for neck pain, including spinal manipulation, spinal adjustments, and ultrasound, is a non-invasive and drug-free therapy.
The first thing a chiropractor will want to know during your visit is the intensity and duration of your pain. Sometimes, the pain is merely a mild nuisance but severe neck pain can cause serious impairment of your daily activities. While mild to moderate pain is typically the temporary result of poor posture or carelessness when performing daily activities, severe neck pain can be a sign of a congenital defect such as scoliosis, an injury from a recent accident, or progressive age-related deterioration.
Although a chiropractor will use many of the same criteria as a physician when diagnosing neck pain, a chiropractic medical history tends to place greater weight on the fact that the neck is merely one part of the integrated biomechanical system that is the human spine. Systems such as accompanying shoulder or arm pain are considered in context of the underlying issue of chiropractic neck pain.
Spinal manipulation and spinal adjustments are an important part of the treatment program for chiropractic neck pain. This drug-free therapy simply involves the chiropractor using his or her hands to treat subluxations. A subluxation occurs when one or more vertebrae move out of position, thus creating pressure and irritation near the spinal nerves. Spinal manipulation and spinal adjustments can fix the subluxation, relieve pain in the soft tissues, increase circulation, and stimulate the body's nervous system.
Contrary to popular belief, spinal manipulation and spinal adjustments are not painful. When you seek chiropractic treatment for neck pain, the treatment is precise and gentle. Chiropractors are trained as experts in the spine and how to manually return motion to restricted spinal joints. They do not merely "pop" or "crack" bones until something "snaps" back into place.
Ultrasound is another popular non-invasive therapy that chiropractors use to treat neck pain. Ultrasound works by helping to increase blood circulation, which in turn reduces swelling, stiffness, and painful muscle spasms. When the sound waves from the ultrasound machine are released deep into your muscle tissues, they create a gentle therapeutic heat.
After spinal manipulation, spinal adjustments, or ultrasound, your chiropractor may recommend that you use an ice pack on your neck to further control inflammation. This cold therapy can be completed at home and is an excellent supplement to traditional chiropractic treatment for neck pain.
Once your chiropractor has helped to get your neck pain under control, he or she may suggest exercise, diet, or lifestyle changes to improve your range of motion, strengthen muscles, and prevent a painful relapse. If your condition does not seem to be improving within a reasonable time frame, however, you may be referred to a another specialist for further treatment.