Chiropractors take a comprehensive approach to treating neck or cervical pain. The first thing a chiropractor will do is a very careful case history and examination not only of your neck but of your entire musculoskeletal system. We want to understand how the rest of your body is affecting your neck and what specific structures in your neck - vertebrae, nerves, joints, and muscles - might be causing your pain. A chiropractor will do an orthopedic and neurological exam, and once your chiropractor understands which structures are causing your pain or discomfort there are many techniques available to treat it.
The traditional chiropractic techniques involve a very specific thrust applied to the vertebrae. In the cervical region you may hear a sound that's a little louder than other adjustments because it's so close to your ear. But the adjustments are actually very gentle, and patients report that there is no pain or usually very little pain associated with these adjustments at all. Most patients report that they feel a tremendous sense of relief right after the adjustment. And they'll also report an increased range of motion, decreased inflammation, and relaxation of the muscles. Chiropractors may also use other chiropractic adjusting techniques that are more non-force or gentle to restore the normal motion of the vertebrae or subluxations in the cervical spine.
Chiropractors also employ a wide variety of other modalities that they can incorporate into your sessions to reduce pain and inflammation. Chiropractors may use heat or ice applied locally to the muscles. They may use ultrasound or cold laser. There are also stretching techniques and exercises that they may recommend to restore the normal biomechanics of the cervical spine.
Chiropractors will also advise you on postural issues that may be affecting your spine. There are so many things we do every day from carrying heavy handbags or backpacks on our shoulders, sitting at a computer for long hours, or using handheld devices. Even sleeping positions, the choice of a pillow, or how you sit when you read a book or watch TV can play a major role in not only causing neck pain but also your recovery as well.
It's really important to follow any recommendations your chiropractor makes for home care. The way you take care of your neck at home can play a major role in how fast your neck recovers, but it also can play a major role in preventing problems in the future.