Neck Pain: Common Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Neck pain can be, well, a pain in the neck. Have you ever woken up in the morning after a rough night’s sleep and noticed the tightness and pain in your upper neck? The most common cause of neck pain is the pillow you’re using and bad sleep posture. If your pillow supports your head but not your neck you could have neck pain in the morning. When lying on your side, with proper sleep posture, you should be able to draw a straight line from the glabella (the space between your eyebrows), the indentation (frenulum) of the upper lip and the sternal notch (the dip on top of the breastbone). That means your head is level and will prevent neck pain during sleep. On the other hand, If you have too many or too few pillows, your neck won’t be straight which will cause 8 hours of stress on your upper neck.

Another common cause of neck pain is poor posture when sitting at the computer. If the center of your ear is 2-3 inches forward of the center of your shoulder, you’re adding 20-30 pounds of extra weight to your upper neck. You should be able to draw a straight line from the center of your ear down the center of your shoulder. Proper seated posture is to have an arch in your neck and lower back. The same rules apply to driving a car. In addition, when driving, it helps to relax your shoulders as well.

Car accidents cause very serious neck problems even when going as slow as 5 m.p.h. In a car accident the neck is whipped forward and back at very high speeds. In response to a whiplash accident, a liquid protein called collagen gets released into the ligaments of the neck. Ligaments are the soft tissue that connects one bone of the spine to the next. The collagen then forms a stiff scar. This causes a lack of movent in a segment of the neck.To compensate the area next to it has too much motion. This can cause the discs of the neck to wear out faster than normal and extra bone growth to form. This is known as osteoarthritis.

The best method for neck pain relief is chiropractic. With chiropractic, first we check your posture. If we see your head tilted low on one side, there’s often a bone out of alignment on that side. Next, I check the motion of each segment of the neck to see where it’s restricted. Then I muscle test to see which spinal segment his causing pressure on the nerve. Once the exact segment is located and the direction of restriction is determined only then will I give a neck adjustment.

Your neck can be adjusted very gently by hand or with instruments so there’s no risk of injury. The use of adjusting instruments helps to restore the normal curve in the neck as as well as normal range of motion. I also do menigeal adjustments. The meninges is the covering of the brain and spinal cord. Therefore a meningeal adjustment is a much deeper release than a regular neck adjustment. It not only adjusts the neck but loosens up the lower spine as well.

After the neck is adjusted I will always recheck your posture to see that your head, shoulders and hips are level and all segments of your spine are moving freely. Adjusting the neck is often not enough to restore normal range of motion (flexibility). Often the ligaments are too stiff. To help return your range of motion to normal, I often give my patients ligament exercises and tractioning to do at home. The traction unit also helps to relieve neck pain and increase the space between the discs. Healing from a car accident is not complete until you have normal range of motion, normal curves in the neck and you’re completely pain free. It usually takes 3 months of regular visits to restore normal range of motion and to restore the normal curve but it can take up to a year depending on how badly you were hurt from the accident.

If you are suffering from neck pain, please call me for a free consultation at 510-558-0164 or e-mail me at drrettner@sbcglobal.net I would love a chance to relieve your symptoms and help you to achieve a happier, healthier life style. Thank you.

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