Whenever we wake up in the morning with a stiff and painful neck, the propensity is to blame the situation on our pillow, bed, or sleep position during that night. We also make an effort to figure out what is taking place when we move our neck suddenly and feel a sharp pain that feels as if something has suddenly slipped out of position or is pinching a “nerve.” Though it may seem so, one single incident is hardly ever the cause of most neck problems, but rather the cumulative effects of incorrect sitting posture, bad work and lifestyle habits, and lack of healthy exercise for strength and flexibility. Obviously, some neck problems are due to traumatic events such as a whiplash accident, a fall, or a sports injury.
To understand neck pain, it is important to understand the anatomy of the spine. The spinal bones or vertebrae of the neck are comprised of posterior joints, called facets, that attach vertebrae to one another and serve to pilot the motion of the spine. Inter-vertebral discs, composed of strong cartilage, join the “bodies” of the vertebrae. This strong cartilage encases the nucleus, a soft material in the center of the inter-vertebral discs. The discs act as shock absorbers and spacers between the vertebrae. The spinal cord is positioned between the facets of the vertebrae. Spinal nerves leave the spine between the vertebrae and provide energy to muscles and organs of the body. They also carry sensory impulses, including pain information, from the body to the brain. The nerves that leave from the neck are responsible for the entire upper extremity including the shoulder, elbow and hand, as well as structures of the head and neck. The natural forward curve of the neck balances the weight of the head and alleviates stress on neck vertebrae. For more information please feel free to visit your Colorado Springs Chiropractor.
Risk Factors: Neck Pain and Computer Use
Computer use has risen dramatically over the years, at home and in the workplace. Nowadays, a large number of people spend eight to ten hours a day, or more, bent over a keyboard and staring at a monitor. Sitting with the head in a forward bent position (the posture most computer users assume), puts tremendous strain on neck ligaments and muscles. Furthermore, the normal forward curve of the neck may become reversed and create more stress on the surrounding tissue of the neck. Awkward posture and repetitive stress can produce spinal problems including disc herniation and subluxations, which are the main causes of spinal nerve pain. Conjointly with general pain, spinal nerve irritation in the neck can cause symptoms including headaches, eye problems, giddiness, arm and hand pain (and paraesthesia), as well as shoulder pain.
Headaches and Chiropractic Care
Headaches or migraines are frequently associated with misalignments of the cervical spine. Symptoms, from a dull ache to throbbing pain, are caused when the cervical vertebrae lose their essential position or motion and sensitive nerves and blood vessels, associated with structures in the head are stretched or irritated. Trigger points, the tight knots in the muscles of the neck, can also refer pain to the head. Of course there are other factors associated with headaches including toxic fumes, certain foods, additives such as MSG, alcohol, caffeine, and stress. Nevertheless one must always look at the tissues and alignment of the neck when considering the cause of headaches and migraines. Chiropractic care has been shown to exceptionally beneficial in the treatment of headaches. Your Colorado Springs Chiropractor can give you further information regarding treatment and pain relief.
Whiplash and Chiropractic Care
Unfortunately, many people are involved in car accidents. Rear-end collisions are the most common. During such an accident, the passenger in the front vehicle gets his or her head forcefully wrenched backward and then forward causing injury to the structures of the back and front of the neck. Such a powerful force can cause trauma to the ligaments, muscles, facet joints, discs, and spinal nerves. Whiplash injury includes neck pain and immobility, and other symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vertigo, arm and should pain, tingling in the hands and fingers, and weakness of the arms and hand. It is extremely important to get immediate evaluation and x-rays to rule out the possibility of fracture. More often than not in most cases, the injuries are principally to the soft tissues and joints. Proper management is crucial in rehabilitation from the pain and symptoms of whiplash, and also to prevent future disability. Your Colorado Springs Chiropractor is educated to understand whiplash injury, and is more than capable of managing the case from injury to recovery.