Your neck is responsible for supporting your most important organ: your brain. Even though the neck has a critical job, its seven bones are the smallest in your spine. This anatomical setup allows for a greater range of motion that is not available in other areas of the spine. The average adult head weighs approximately 11 pounds, and your neck is responsible for supporting the full weight of your head. That’s a lot of stress, even when your neck is perfectly aligned. If a bone is out of place in the spine for any reason, it can put added stress on the other bones of the spine and the spinal cord, which then causes stress on the nervous system and degeneration within the joints of the spine. This can lead to pressure on the nerves and trigger a pain response.
There are many factors that can cause spinal misalignments and contribute to neck pain, including cervical or head injuries, repeated daily postural stressors, or even underlying health conditions.
How Our Neck Pain Treatment Plan Works
1. Be Heard
Quality time with a health professional, so you can be truly heard and understood, isn’t all that common. We understand that. This is why, on your first visit, you will meet with one of our doctors and share your health concerns and struggles so we can understand exactly why you are here and what you want to achieve. The doctor will determine what testing is necessary to find the source of your health concerns and answer the biggest question of all: Can Chiropractic Care Help?
2. Discover How We Can Help You
Every new patient should feel like they are making the right decision for their health. This is why our doctors explain what they are looking for in the testing, so our patients know exactly what is going on, instead of just being a bystander. We will share everything we discover from your testing and exams, including if we can help you. In the unfortunate event that we cannot help, our doctors will provide any additional resources they feel would be appropriate to assist you.
3. Achieve Your Health Goals Together
Whether you just want to be out of pain, or you want to get back to golfing without limitations, or you are desperate to get a restful night’s sleep, we will be with you every step of the way. We’ll achieve your goals
How We Care for Neck Pain in West Omaha, NE
Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
At Family First Chiropractic, we begin with a detailed consultation with the doctor to review your health history; this allows the doctor to fully understand what factors in your life are contributing to the neck pain you have been dealing with. The doctor will ask about recent events which have exacerbated your acute issues, but also the life experiences you have gone through which have led you to an overall breakdown in your function. The doctor will then determine the appropriate comprehensive examinations which will be conducted to further identify the cause of your neck pain. Examinations may include bio-structural analysis, full range of motion testing, and a complete chiropractic examination of your entire spine. If indicated, another tool the doctor will utilize is digital X-rays of the spine; this will help determine the extent of your injury, rate of degeneration, or any underlying issues resulting in neck pain.
Gonstead Chiropractic Care
Following your exam, the doctor will take time to analyze your history and chiropractic examination results. At your follow-up appointment, the doctor will review all the examination findings, discuss how they relate to your neck pain, and present the care options available to you. If the doctor determines that chiropractic care is the best option for you in dealing with your neck pain, then you will also be given the doctor’s best recommendations for your recovery and correction. For patients with neck pain caused by spinal misalignments, the doctor may recommend a series of adjustments that move the misaligned bones into the proper position utilizing the Gonstead Technique. Restoring bones to their optimal position allows the nerves to communicate properly and begin healing so that function can be restored. Because your daily life can be a contributing factor to your neck pain, the doctor may also recommend exercises or stretches to do at home that can support your adjustments. Making these changes in your daily life can help eliminate some of the causes of your neck pain.
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Common Causes of Neck Pain in West Omaha, NE
Loss of the optimal cervical spinal structure and its resulting pathologies are known in medical literature by numerous names including spondylosis, spinal stenosis, cervical compression myelopathy, cervical disc herniation, subaxial disc space narrowing, cervical fixation, cervical radiculitis, vertebral subluxation, and many more. All these different diagnostic terms describe conditions that can lead to eventual radiation of pain to the hands and loss of normal function.
Vertebral subluxation is perhaps the most accurate description of loss of normal vertebral position. Vertebral subluxations alter the protective structure of the spine, which causes abnormal nerve transmission, resulting in a state of disharmony and lowered function in the body. Vertebral subluxation also causes abnormal joint physiology, which results in degeneration of the bones and soft tissues of the spine. When left untreated, vertebral subluxation and loss of cervical curve is devastating to a person’s health and the effects of these conditions are well documented by leading health authorities.
Bulged and Herniated Discs
Forward head posture is one of the most significant reasons for a decrease in proper neck curvature. Sitting, texting, repetitive computer work, sedentary lifestyles, motor vehicle accidents, and other physical traumas serve as the primary causes of forward head posture. Each of these can reduce neck curvature, leaving the spine weaker and more vulnerable to stress, and often resulting in neck pain. Loss of healthy curvature of the neck also increases pressure on the discs between each vertebra.
Vertebral discs operate similarly to shocks on a car; they act as a cushion between the vertebrae and reduce the effects of daily wear and tear on the spine. Discs are made of cartilage, water, and a gel-like substance in the center for added protection. As alignment of the spine becomes altered, the gel-like nucleus in the middle of the disc becomes slightly displaced. This produces added pressure on the side of the disc and stresses the cartilage. Consistent pressure on discs from vertebral subluxation produces tears in the cartilage and forces the gel-like substance to slightly protrude or bulge through the side of the disc, resulting in disc herniation. Herniations come in a variety of sizes. Smaller herniations are generally referred to as a bulge rather than a herniation. Every herniation leaves the spine weakened and extremely vulnerable to stress and pressure. Both disc bulges and herniations can be an additional contributing factor to neck pain.
Billions of people all over the world use cell phones daily. The majority of cell phone usage occurs with the spine and neck flexed forward. Extended use of a cell phone with the head in forward flexion creates a variety of unwanted health challenges. The number and types of health problems stemming from technology use are rising at alarming rates. Doctors have started to develop terminology for new conditions and diagnoses specific to this growing epidemic. One specific description of this increasingly common condition is Tech Neck.
A study performed in 2014 evaluated the effects of forward head posture due to the stresses caused by usage of cell phones and other technology devices. The findings showed that consistent use of computer screens, tablets, and cell phones exacerbate forward head posture, which is when a person’s head is extended out in front of their body. Forward head posture adds significant stress to the spine which leads to early spinal degeneration and an increase in unwanted health problems, including neck pain. The study determined the increased stress from forward head posture may lead to early wear and tear on spinal vertebrae and discs and speeds up spinal degeneration which may increase the potential need for future surgeries.
Poor posture from technology use most frequently looks like a person with their head tilted forward and their shoulders dropped in a rounded position. The average person spends two to four hours a day with their head tilted forward for reading and texting on phones and other electronic devices. This amounts to 700-1400 hours of abnormal cervical spine stress per year. At Family First Chiropractic, we deal with Tech Neck with many of our patients, and we get great results with a combination of specific adjustments, encouraging better at-home practices, and providing individualized exercises to target your specific subluxations caused by too much screen time. Taking a multi-directional approach to correcting Tech Neck allows our doctors to help patients prevent future degeneration while decreasing overall neck pain.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Spinal degeneration is the gradual and progressive breakdown of vertebral joints and related structures due to long-term spinal misalignments. These misalignments, also called vertebral subluxations, are caused by deterioration of the intervertebral discs, bad posture, or a variety of traumatic injuries. When left uncorrected, these spinal misalignments cause abnormal biomechanics and eventually erode joint surfaces.
This degenerative process is similar to the abnormal wear on car tires that are left unbalanced. When vertebrae in the cervical spine are misaligned, they are subjected to different amounts of stress, which can lead to uneven wear on both bones and discs. The incidence of degenerative changes in the cervical spine varies depending on whether vertebrae in the upper or lower neck are involved. It is most common for patients to experience degeneration in the lower neck. Spinal degeneration is a condition that progresses over time if left untreated. During the later phases of degeneration, neck pain, loss of mobility, stiffness, and a variety of neurological conditions become more common.
Degenerative changes in the spine develop because of a loss of proper alignment of spinal vertebra. Abnormal movement due to misalignment of the spinal vertebra leads to minor asymmetries in the structure of the spine. To stabilize the degenerating joints, the body deposits calcium at the edge of the bone, resulting in irregular joint surfaces and arthritic spurring.
Although it has been suggested that aging is the main cause of arthritis, recent research indicates otherwise; untreated spinal misalignments and uncorrected lifestyle factors are more often to blame for developing arthritis in spinal joints. The more degeneration present in the spine, the faster arthritis can progress, and this is a process that can happen at any age.
One major consequence of arthritis is nervous system interference. The spinal misalignments, called subluxations, that lead to the development of arthritis can increase tension and disturbance in the nervous system. Nervous system interference puts the body into a state of dysfunction that eventually leads to deteriorating health and the increased risk of symptoms, including neck pain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is massage or chiropractic better for neck pain?
Massage can be very useful in relieving neck pain and reducing muscle tension. Chiropractic care is best used to find and correct the source of the muscle spasm causing pain in the neck and associated extremity joints like the shoulders and scapula. Combining massage techniques with recommended chiropractic care has been shown to reduce the amount of time neck pain is experienced and reduce or eliminate future occurrences of neck pain.
How can you tell if your neck is out of alignment?
At Family First Chiropractic, we like to say that posture is the window to your spine. Good upper spine and body posture begins with your ears aligned with your shoulders and your scapula retracted. Good posture creates less wear and tear on the spinal vertebrae and discs. An absence of good posture may indicate that there is a misalignment of one or more spinal vertebrae. The only way to know for sure if your neck is out of alignment is to get checked by a chiropractor.
Why should I visit a chiropractor for neck pain?
People who suffer from neck pain due to spinal misalignments experience short- and long-term consequences that rob their quality of life and often begin a cycle of dependency on pills and visits to a medical doctor. Chiropractors undergo evidence-based training that focuses on the restoration of proper alignment of the spine. Chiropractic adjustments seek to restore the alignment of the spine from the brain stem down through the hips in order to remove pressure and unnecessary negative neurological feedback in the nervous system.
What problems are associated with poor posture?
Poor posture can be correlated with a wide variety of health issues. Some of the most reported health issues include: neck pain; headaches; restrictive pulmonary disease; muscular fatigue; spinal cord and nerve degeneration; spinal disc deterioration; visual and visuomotor loss; pain or loss of feeling in extremities; balance and gait issues; hormone disruption; scoliosis; TMJ and many more.
Do I need surgery for my neck pain?
Cervical spine surgery can be necessary in cases involving major accidents, trauma, or other obvious pathologies. However, it may be possible to address your neck pain with a more conservative approach. Chiropractic care is focused on the mechanical correction of the spine, which reduces nerve interference and can result in the mitigation or elimination of neck pain symptoms. Only a complete chiropractic examination can determine if chiropractic adjustments are the right method to address your neck pain.
How can I relieve my neck pain?
Here are 5 tips to minimize the impact that neck pain has on your life:
- Stand, stretch, and move regularly throughout the day
- Maintain proper posture while using technology, wearing backpacks, and navigating your daily work & home activities
- Get enough sleep while utilizing proper sleeping posture
- Drink water to stay hydrated and use ice on areas of pain
- Get your spine checked for subluxations by a chiropractor