Is this you? Stiff, sore, achy neck in the morning. Neck pain throughout the workday, unable to fully concentrate, short with co-workers, sleep trouble, unable to fall asleep, stay asleep, or waking earlier than you need due to neck discomfort. How is it affecting your relationships with your family or friends? Are you irritable? Maybe you are just not enjoying the time spent with loved ones as much due to pain. Rubbing your neck doesn't help and you try to cover up the problem with pain medication, muscle relaxers, aspirin or Tylenol. Seem familiar?
Our neck structure is an incredible feat of engineering. It was designed to hold your head up and created with a built in shock absorber. This shock absorber is actually a curvature called a lordosis that acts like a spring to absorb the shock of your head resting on your neck.
When your neck loses this curve ligaments supporting your neck become stretched and lose their ability to maintain the natural curve. Once your neck has lost its natural curve, your neck and shoulders attempt to hold your head in the proper position. Unfortunately, they were not created to do this and tire easily. This is when your neck becomes over worked and you begin to feel the tightness and muscle fatigue in the neck and shoulder area. A loss of curvature is also a precursor for arthritis. The repeated shock over years without a curvature causes cartilage to breakdown much sooner in your neck. The cartilage is what cushions your spine and prevents one vertebra from directly contacting another (a condition often treated with surgery).
What causes this lack of curve or even curve reversal? Auto accidents, especially when the individual thinks they are fine and never gets checked. Chronic poor posture (sitting at a desk all day starting in school and often years after), falls, horsing around with brothers, sisters, friends. Have you ever been put in a headlock? There are literally thousands of examples of these traumas that we have all been through over the course of our lives. Doctors of chiropractic offer an effective approach to treating many different types of neck problems. The adjustment is an accurate and gentle therapy with the purpose of returning proper alignment and motion to restricted spinal joints. Stretches and strengthening exercises are also used to increase the muscles efficiency of supporting the neck once proper alignment and curvature is restored. If you or someone you know is experiencing pain in their neck and shoulder areas, please consult or refer to your Doctor of Chiropractic for an evaluation.
Dr. Ryan Giel