Neck Pain Treatment
The majority of neck pain is not caused by trauma or whiplash. Most causes of neck pain can be attributed to long-term poor posture. The most common type of poor posture is the forward head and rounded shoulder posture. This occurs when the head (weighing about 10 pounds) shifts or slants forward relative to the trunk of the spine. This forward head position creates increased stress and strain on the joints of the neck, especially the joints in the lower cervical vertebrae. This force (called shear force) is borne by the discs and the smaller facet joints in the neck. Even a small amount of forward head posture, one or two inches, can create relatively high forces on the joints of the lower neck. Over time, the joints of the neck become irritated and painful causing pain in the neck and upper back.
In addition to joint stress and strain, the muscles of the neck also must counterbalance the forward head posture. The neck extensors (the muscles in the back of the neck) are overworked and become irritated from chronic tightness and muscle spasm. The neck flexors (the muscles in the front of the neck) can atrophy because they are used less frequently. The result is neck pain that radiates between the shoulder blades and the upper back. Localized areas of pain in the muscles called trigger points may also develop.
It is important to remember to practice good neck and shoulder posture when using the computer, while driving, reading and using the telephone/cellphone. A good rule of thumb is to try to maintain some distance between your chin and chest (about the size of a tennis ball). This can help prevent excessive forward flexion of the neck.
Remember to take frequent, short breaks from your desk or computer. Prolonged periods of poor posture leads to fatigue, muscle spasm and joint pain. The standard recommendation is to take a short, “micro-break” every 20 min. Micro-breaks might include gentle neck extension, shoulder shrugs and backward bending.
Studies have shown that chiropractic can be effective for the treatment of neck pain. If you have persistent neck or upper back pain, call our office and learn how we can help you reduce your neck pain.
Patient centered. Evidence based. Chiropractic.
1330 East Arlington Blvd., Greenville, NC 27858