How Chiropractic Can Assist Neck Pain

Neck pain is one of the most common problems that we see in chiropractic practice.

The muscles joining the base of the skull to the vertebral bones in the neck have among the highest concentration of nerve receptors in the body that convey critical sensory information about movement and posture to important brain centres. Abnormal joint mechanics in this region can cause the brain to express abnormal pain behaviour.

Chiropractors are well trained to recognise the different types of neck pain, and we have a range of techniques at our disposal to identify the cause of the neck pain and also to decide on the safest and most effective way to correct the problem that’s causing it. 

Many people put up with some degree of neck pain or stiffness that arises due to their faulty work posture. This type of pain tends to gradually get worse over time if ignored, and can speed up degenerative changes in the neck.

Some people can wake up with a wry neck and are suddenly unable to move their neck at all. This is a very different situation that requires a different technical approach to reduce the pain as quickly as possible.

Whatever the situation, chiropractors spend a great deal of our training learning how to safely and effectively correct problems in the neck. After a detailed case history, your neck will be moved through its range of motion, and we will feel for the position and movement of the bones and joints in your neck. Once we’ve identified the problem, the correct technique will be chosen to make any necessary adjustments.

Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of chiropractic care for neck pain. It’s important to ensure that the neck is kept in a good state because it’s one of the most common sites for degenerative arthritis that we see clinically, particularly with the kinds of postures that most of us are developing these days.

A simple test can be just to turn your head side to side. If you can’t get your nose around to your shoulder, then your neck is losing its normal range of movement. If you’re finding that you often feel stiff through the neck and shoulders, or are waking up with difficulty moving your neck, a chiropractic check-up would be a very good idea.

The World Federation of Chiropractic has cited the following as a list of the most recent, high quality scientific studies relating to chiropractic care for neck pain.

Gert Bronfort, Mitch Haas, Roni Evans, Brent Leininger, and Jay Triano. Effectiveness of manual therapies: the UK evidence report. ChiroprOsteopat. 2010; 18: 3.

D’Sylva J, Miller J, Gross A, Burnie SJ, Goldsmith CH, Graham N, Haines T, Brønfort G, Hoving JL; Cervical Overview Group. Manual therapy with or without physical medicine modalities for neck pain: a systematic review. Man Ther. 2010 Oct;15(5):415-33

Gross A, Miller J, D’Sylva J, Burnie SJ, Goldsmith CH, Graham N, Haines T, Brønfort G, Hoving JL. Manipulation or mobilisation for neck pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jan 20;(1):CD004249.

Miller J, Gross A, D’Sylva J, Burnie SJ, Goldsmith CH, Graham N, Haines T, Brønfort G, Hoving JL. Manual therapy and exercise for neck pain: a systematic review. Man Ther. 2010 Aug;15(4):334-54.

Bronfort G, Evans R, Anderson AV, Svendsen KH, Bracha Y, Grimm RH. Spinal manipulation, medication, or home exercise with advice for acute and subacute neck pain: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2012 Jan 3;156(1 Pt 1):1-10.

Dunning JR, Cleland JA, Waldrop MA, Arnot CF, Young IA, Turner M, Sigurdsson G. Upper cervical and upper thoracic thrust manipulation versus nonthrust mobilization in patients with mechanical neck pain: a multicenter randomized clinical trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Jan;42(1):5-18

Evans R, Bronfort G, Schulz C, Maiers M, Bracha Y, Svendsen K, Grimm R, Garvey T, Transfeldt E. Supervised exercise with and without spinal manipulation performs similarly and better than home exercise for chronic neck pain: a randomized controlled trial. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2012 May 15;37(11):903-14

Mitchell Haas, DC, Adele Spegman, PhD, RN, David Peterson, DC, Mikel Aickin, PhD, and Darcy Vavrek, ND. Dose-Response and Efficacy of Spinal Manipulation for Chronic Cervicogenic Headache: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Spine J. 2010 Feb; 10(2): 117.

Lau HM, Wing Chiu TT, Lam TH. The effectiveness of thoracic manipulation on patients with chronic mechanical neck pain – a randomized controlled trial. Man Ther. 2011 Apr;16(2):141-7.

Leaver, Andrew M. et al. A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Manipulation With Mobilization for Recent Onset Neck Pain. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation , Volume 91 , Issue 9 , 1313 – 1318

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