Neck pain and headache are common problems for a wide range of people. The pain is usually caused when the muscles at the base of your skull and upper spine become too tight, putting pressure on nerves.
The good news is that chiropractic can help. Chiropractic adjustments are highly effective for decreasing neck pain and headache due to muscle tension.
Having good flexibility is important for posture, reducing the risk of injuries, and preventing pain. Flexibility is a part of your body’s natural range of motion and can be improved through stretching exercises, such as dynamic stretching that starts out with a small movement and gets progressively larger. Your chiropractor can also teach you techniques like proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, which involves a combination of stretching and contracting the muscle against resistance (like a partner or resistance band) to strengthen it.
A common reason for neck pain is having an improperly aligned spine. When the vertebrae are misaligned, it can affect how well your muscles and joints work by affecting the signals that the brain sends to other parts of the body. The goal of a chiropractic adjustment is to bring the spine back into alignment, which will improve joint mechanics and reduce inflammation, spasm, and pain in the neck.
While a chiropractor won’t recommend you take up pole vaulting, they may recommend specific stretches for your neck and a diet that will help you maintain or improve flexibility. This might include foods that are low in inflammation, such as mackerel and salmon, nuts, berries, and leafy greens. They may also suggest foods high in calcium, vitamin D, and protein. These are the building blocks for healthy muscles and tendons, which will also help to improve your flexibility.
In many cases, neck pain results from a whiplash injury that causes the muscles and ligaments in your neck to stretch and sprain. A Chiropractor Fawkner can treat this type of neck pain with neck manipulation techniques that are designed to help your muscles and ligaments relax and heal.
A skilled chiropractic adjustment involves the chiropractor using small instruments or their hands to apply a quick and controlled force to a joint. This force changes the pressure in the joint capsule and releases trapped gases. When this occurs, it often creates a popping sound that is the result of increased oxygen and nitrogen in the joint fluid. This change in joint pressure helps the spine move better and may relieve pain from herniated discs.
While there are different approaches and techniques to spinal manipulation, most have the same goal — to restore movement in stuck spinal joints (and in some cases extremity joints as well) to allow the body and nervous system to function at their best. There is evidence that spinal manipulation improves the movement and alignment of the spine, which in turn can reduce neck pain and headaches.
In this study, participating chiropractors recruited patients sequentially presenting to their office with neck pain and performed manual manipulation of the cervical spine. Patient case questionnaires were completed at baseline, weeks 1, 2, 4, 8, and 26 either in the office or by mailing them back to the college’s research department.
Over time, your neck may develop misalignments that negatively affect posture and cause or contribute to headaches. This happens when the spinal nerves are being compressed by the vertebrae and unable to transmit the vital biochemical signals that your brain needs to function properly.
In most cases, a chiropractor will use manual manipulation (also known as spinal adjustment or joint manipulation) to break up and clear these restrictions. This is done by using techniques such as Gonstead, Diversified, Thompson, Activator, and Chiropractic Biophysics. These methods of adjustment involve a quick and precise manipulative thrust to return the misaligned vertebrae back into position. The adjustment is usually accompanied by a popping sound that is the result of a change in pressure within the joint and the release of nitrogen gas.
This technique also helps restore the proper motion of the restricted joint by reducing pain, stiffness, and associated muscle spasm. The goal is to improve spinal movement, alleviate stress on the nervous system, and reduce or prevent recurrence of headaches and other symptoms.
Headaches are a common side-effect of chiropractic treatment, but it is important to note that most patients do not experience significant headaches or other discomfort following their adjustments. When headaches do occur, it is often a reaction to the body’s initial response to the adjustment and usually subsides with proper rest, hydration, and gentle stretches or exercises.
Whether your neck pain is the result of poor posture, a herniated disc, or another medical condition, chiropractic may provide relief. A chiropractor will first perform a physical examination of the head and neck to find out what is causing your pain and symptoms. He or she will use palpation, which involves feeling the spine with the fingers, and will test your range of motion. For example, if you can turn your head 90 degrees on one side but only 50 on the other, that is an indication of an imbalance in the neck.
The chiropractor will also use a method known as distraction/traction technique, which involves pulling on the intervertebral disc to remove tension and alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves. Other methods of spinal manipulation include rapid short lever arm thrust and instrument-assisted manipulation.
Chiropractic adjustments can relieve pain and help your body heal itself. It is an excellent alternative to pharmaceutical medications, which can have a wide range of side effects from mild (dizziness and fatigue) to life-threatening (internal bleeding or organ damage).
When you are choosing a chiropractor, ask for a referral from someone who has experienced the same type of injury as you. If you don’t have a recommendation, try searching the Internet or asking your friends, coworkers, and family members for recommendations.