Neck pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal issues in the world. In fact, it is estimated that roughly 80% of people will experience neck pain at some point in their life. Nearly half of the population deals with neck pain on a yearly basis, with a significant portion of these people experiencing symptoms for 2 or more weeks. In this blog post, we'll go over the current state of neck pain and why chiropractic care is one of the very best treatments you can utilize for neck pain.

Neck pain is becoming increasingly common in a culture that revolves more and more around screen time. Many desk workers complain of neck pain after having to spend hours on a computer, just to go home and spend even more time looking down at their phone. In fact, office workers have the highest prevalence of neck pain among all occupations. Teens and young adults, a population that sees extremely high phone usage, are seeing an increased prevalence in neck pain as well. This issue is commonly becoming known as “tech neck” or “text neck.” An easy illustration for this is to imagine your spine is a pole, and your head is a bowling ball on top of the pole. There are wires on each side of the bowling ball that are holding it in place to the pole. When the bowling ball is constantly tipped forward to one direction, this causes the wires on the opposite side to be continuously taut. These wires are your muscles that are constantly under tension. This tension causes pain, which causes abnormal movement patterns, which disrupts proper joint mechanics and leads to even more pain. Since chiropractors focus particularly on musculoskeletal issues, they are a perfect suitor for solving this problem.  

Construction and trades jobs also see a very high prevalence in neck pain due to the increased physical labor required and commonly having to reach overhead. Other common, but perhaps less obvious, causes of neck pain include stress and anxiety, which is also increasing in prevalence year after year. Many people hold stress in their neck musculature or upper back musculature, which leads to painful dysfunction in a similar manner to the one listed above. Others commonly hold stress in their jaw, which shares significant pain referral patterns into the neck. Additionally, stress and anxiety affect breathing patterns, which can cause respiratory musculature to remain tense, thus contributing to neck pain.  

Neck pain is also a leading cause of headaches, what are referred to as cervicogenic headaches. The upper cervical region has a tight bundle of musculature called the suboccipital muscles, which can easily become tense due to poor posture, stress, and repeated sudden flexion. A 2016 study in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders concluded that spinal manipulation was shown to be a particularly effective treatment method, in this case superior to exercise, for patients with chronic headache (1).  

As you can see, neck pain isn’t always so simple, and there’s typically a multitude of factors that are causing pain.  While proper ergonomics, movement patterns, and stress reduction techniques are certainly beneficial and can prevent neck pain, the plain truth is that many people are unaware of what exactly is causing their neck pain, and furthermore, they don’t have the time or energy to implement these kinds of beneficial practices.  

Chiropractic care has been clinically proven as one of the most effective, and might I add cost-effective, treatment methods for neck pain that medicine has to offer. A 2003 study in the British Medical Journal concluded that manual therapy/spinal mobilization were proven to be significantly more effective and cost less in the treatment of neck pain when compared to physiotherapy/physical therapy and general practitioners (2). A 2002 study in Spine Magazine concluded that chronic neck pain patients should enter treatment protocols that include rehab exercises along with spinal manipulation (adjustments) for optimal results (3). Another 2004 study in the same concluded that “recommendations can be made with confidence regarding the use of spinal manipulative therapy and/or mobilization as a viable option for the treatment of low back and neck pain” (4).  

As we can see from this research, chiropractic care is widely regarded as an extremely effective treatment option for neck pain, perhaps the best treatment option there is. Furthermore, chiropractors who combine manipulation with other manual therapy options, as well as rehab exercises, are even more effective (something we do in our office). Here are some easy rehab exercises you can do for your neck pain today:   

To conclude, neck pain is a common problem that can be extremely frustrating. In all likelihood, neck pain is something that you will experience at some point in your life. We’ve seen from the research that chiropractic care is not only extremely effective in treating neck pain, it’s also an extremely low-cost option of care. If you, or someone you know, has experienced neck pain for longer than a week without any improvements, we would highly recommend considering an evidence-based chiropractor to help guide you back to a pain-free life quickly.  

If you’re in the Kansas City area, our office may be the solution that you’re looking for. We have a wide array of tools to help with neck pain and headaches, and our patients have seen fantastic results from our care. If you’re not in the Kansas City area, we would be happy to help you scout an evidence-based chiropractor for you in your area.  

 

References:

(1) Dunning J, Upper cervical and upper thoracic manipulation versus mobilization and exercise in patients with cervicogenic headache: a multi-center randomized clinical trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 2016. 16(64).

(2) Korthals-de Bos IB, Cost effectiveness of physiotherapy, manual therapy, and general practitioner care for neck pain: economic evaluation alongside a randomized controlled trial. British Medical Journal.

(3) Evans R, Two-year follow-up of a randomized clinical trial of spinal manipulation and two types of exercise for patients with chronic neck pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 2002. 27(21): p. 2383-9.

(4) Bronfort G, Efficacy of spinal manipulation and mobilization for low back pain and neck pain: a systematic review and best evidence synthesis. Spine, 2004. May-June 4(3): p. 335-56.

Luke Bergner

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