Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck, had a crick in your neck, or had stiffness in your neck due to stress? Chances are you probably have because almost everyone will experience neck pain at some point in their life. Neck pain can be so severe that is stops you from doing anything, or can be so minimal that it is only annoying.
The neck, also called the cervical spine, is one of the most flexible and movable parts of the human body. However, it is all that motion that makes the neck susceptible to problems. The cervical spine is made up of seven bones called vertebrae. In between the vertebrae are discs that act like shock absorbers. Normally, the cervical spine has a slight c-shaped curve when viewed from the side. That curve also acts like a shock absorber, and is very important to normal functioning of the cervical spine.
There are many different causes and types of neck pain. Minor neck pain and stiffness is most commonly caused by having your neck, or head, in an odd position for too long. Sleeping on a new pillow, reading a book, watching TV, or talking on the phone can cause muscles in your neck to become tired and very tense. These positions can also sometimes cause joints in your spine to lock-up and cause pain. This type of pain will usually go away on it’s own in about one day. However, if you continue to repeat the positions that caused the problem, the pain is likely to come back, and may become a more serious problem with time.
Neck pain and stiffness that occurs repeatedly, will not go away, or is getting worse indicates a more serious problem. This type of pain is most often caused by spinal degeneration, but it can be caused by more serious conditions also. It is best to have this type of pain pattern evaluated by a spinal expert, such as a chiropractor. Spinal degeneration is a slow process, and one of the first signs is straightening of the normal cervical curve. Loss of the cervical curve means less shock absorbing capabilities, and this puts more stress on the joints, discs, and muscles in the neck. This extra stress leads to neck pain and stiffness, and with time can also lead to arthritis in the joints of the neck. Spinal degeneration can be slowed down, and in some cases stopped with chiropractic care.
Neck pain that causes pain to go down the arm or into the hand is most often caused by a pinched nerve in the neck. Spinal nerves leave the spinal cord through small spaces between the vertebrae in the cervical spine. These spinal nerves can be pinched by a disc bulge, arthritic bone spurs, or even severe muscle spasms. It is very important to have this type of neck pain evaluated and treated to avoid any permanent damage to the nerve.
So what can you do to avoid these neck problems? Performing a simple posture exercise can relax the muscles in the neck, and it can also help maintain the normal cervical curve. First, stand up with your arms resting at your sides. Keep the elbows straight and rotate the thumbs outward so they are pointing out away from your hips. This motion pulls your shoulders back slightly. Now make sure your chest is facing upward, like a string is pulling out from your chest. Finally, slightly tuck your chin downward. You should not be forcing your chin backward, and you should not be pulling your shoulders backward. Your neck and upper back should feel relaxed. Hold this position for one minute each hour you are awake. This exercise will help to reset your posture, and help to avoid the build-up of stress in the neck and upper back.
Finally, chiropractic care can help relieve your neck pain and stiffness. Doctors of Chiropractic are trained to accurately diagnose and treat your neck problem. By using specific chiropractic adjustments, chiropractors can often restore normal motion to the cervical spine. The adjustments, when combined with gentle muscle stretching, also help to relax the muscle tightness in the neck. Now there are many different techniques to adjusting the neck, and there are gentle techniques in which you hear no popping.
To determine if chiropractic care could help relieve your neck pain or stiffness, or to speak with a chiropractor in the Edwardsville, IL area, call Dr. Emily Brueggeman at 618-692-0000 . Ask for a free Invitation to Health that includes a consultation and screening to determine if yours is a chiropractic case.