Almost everyone suffers from neck pain once in a while. Maybe you slept in the wrong position. Perhaps you get achy every time you work long hours in the office. Whether your neck hurts from stress, poor posture or injury, you might benefit from seeing a chiropractor for neck pain. Here’s how to know when it’s time to go.
Before You Go To The Chiropractor For Neck Pain
If you just started feeling pain, you might be able to manage it yourself as long as it’s not a serious injury. If you have been in an accident or experienced a blow to the body, neck or head, you might want to be examined by a medical professional right away. Mild neck pain from a simple strain may be managed with these tips.
Although many people think that heat will relax their neck muscles, ice is the better option for acute pain. Ice will tame inflammation and reduce swelling. Using a moist towel around the ice pack will not only protect your skin, but the wet helps the cold to penetrate deeper into the tissue for better relief.
Most experts recommend applying the ice for 20 minutes and leaving it off for 40. Repeat as necessary.
Use The Right Pillow
If your pillow is too flat, it could be putting a strain on your neck, especially if trying to sleep on your side. A firm or supportive pillow usually works best for neck pain. Sleeping on your back or side can help you maintain proper alignment overnight and avoid awaking with stiffness or a crick in your neck.
If you haven’t injured your neck, you can try moving it gently to diminish stiffness. Gradually nod your head, dropping your chin to your chest. You can also slowly look from side to side. If this hurts too much, you might want to check with a doctor before continuing with the movements.
When To See A Chiropractor For Neck Pain
It’s important to understand when it’s time to visit a medical professional. If you experience any of these signs, you might want to make an appointment with a chiropractor.
1. Your Neck Pain Or Stiffness Lingers For More Than A Few Days.
Icing your neck on and off for 24 to 48 hours should relieve your pain. If it doesn’t, you might have a more serious injury than you think. Persistent neck pain can also lead to more serious issues in the future. So don’t wait too long before getting professional help.
How long does a stiff neck last? The answer depends on the cause of the stiffness. If you have strained the muscle, you may recover in a few days to a few weeks. If the stiff neck is caused by an underlying disease, it could be chronic. A chiropractor can help diagnose the reason for the pain and allow you to find relief.
2. Looking Left Or Right Produces Intense Pain.
Being unable to look over your shoulder can get in the way of everyday activities. It makes driving unsafe. It can make it difficult to go grocery shopping, exercise or even hang out with your friends.
When you’re out and about, you may forget that you have a stiff neck. A quick jerk to the side can give you bad neck pain all over again. If this is happening to you, you might want to see a chiropractor. This is especially true if it sends pain down your arm.
3. You Need Pain Medication To Make It Through The Day.
Taking over-the-counter or prescription drugs for pain might be necessary immediately after experiencing acute neck pain. However, if you need to use the medication every day just to feel somewhat comfortable, especially on an ongoing basis, something is not normal.
4. Your Arms Or Hands Are Numb
Numbness or pain that radiates away from your neck can indicate that your vertebrae are out of alignment. Misaligned bones in the spine can cause irritation to the nerves that extend to through your arms to your fingers. A chiropractor can help correct the alignment to bring feeling back to the numb areas and alleviate tingling.
5. You Are Experiencing Headaches
A neck injury can make your head hurt. If you’re experiencing headaches that coincide with your neck pain, you might need to have a chiropractor take a look at your symptoms. Cervicogenic (stemming from the neck) headaches are common and respond well to structural correction of the neck.
What Will A Chiropractor Do?
A chiropractor may start by performing an outward structural examination, or postural assessment. Neurological testing may also be done to screen for functional disturbances to the nerves exiting the spine. Often a chiropractor will take X-rays of the neck, too. This helps him or her see any visible damage or misalignment in the vertebrae. Damage to the soft tissues, muscles and ligaments won’t show up in an X-ray, however.
Chiropractors use a variety of techniques to correct the alignment of your vertebrae. These may include applying gentle pressure to your back, pelvis and neck, using instruments to manipulate the vertebrae and soft tissue or using alternative treatments like muscle testing and electrical stimulation.
Some people are wary of having their neck or back cracked. You can ask a chiropractor to perform more gentle manipulation if you don’t like having your neck twisted.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait To See A Chiropractor
Your vertebrae protect your spinal cord, through which all of the nerves travel. These nerves control every function in your body and send signals between your organs and your brain.
If your spine is misaligned, your nerves may be affected. A chiropractor can align the vertebrae, allowing for optimal communication between your brain and your body. Healthline explains that a visit to the chiropractor can be beneficial whether you’re dealing with neck pain or just hearing popping and cracking sounds frequently.
If you see a chiropractor on a regular basis, you give your body the best chance to function as well as it can. You create an open channel for neural communication. It’s much easier to maintain a healthy spine than to repair a problem.
WebMD explains that chiropractors use hands-on methods to manipulate the spine into alignment. This is often referred to as an adjustment. The idea is that if the spine is aligned, the body has the best chance of healing itself or staying healthy because the brain controls all body function. By the time you’re actively dealing with pain, you may need more intense therapy to bring your body back to normal function.