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Understanding Neck Pain

The neck is a delicate area of the body with a number of important functions, from supporting the brain to protecting nerves to enabling speech. Getting to the root cause of neck pain and keeping the neck healthy and strong are critical to your overall health.

How Common Is Neck Pain?

According to Harvard Health Publishing, about eight in 10 people experience neck pain at some point in their life. For 20-50 percent of the population, neck pain is a recurring, annual problem. Beyond the physical discomfort, neck pain can be directly related to headaches, as well as numbness, tingling and weakness in the arms.

Neck pain can make it difficult to turn and tilt your head. Not only is this inconvenient, but it can affect your safety by slowing your reaction time, especially when driving. Neck pain can also be associated with underlying health problems, such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis or infections.

The neck is the start of the spinal column and spinal cord, which is protected by seven cervical vertebrae. In addition to transmitting signals to and from the brain, structures in the neck make it possible to speak, breath, swallow and carry food to the stomach. The neck is a delicate, complex area of the body – a multitasker of sorts – so neck pain should not be taken lightly.

Types of Neck Pain

Because there are so many different bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilage in a relatively small area of the body, there are dozens of types of neck pain. Generally speaking, neck pain falls into two categories – acute neck pain and chronic neck pain.

Acute neck pain is typically caused by an injury, trauma or strain. For example, a car accident can cause whiplash, but simply sleeping in an awkward position can strain neck muscles. Chronic neck pain lasts more than three months or radiates down the arm. But that doesn’t mean you should wait three months to have neck pain checked.

You should be examined immediately for structural damage if you experience neck pain caused by an accident or trauma. Any pain that lasts longer than a few days requires a visit to a doctor who is qualified to evaluate, diagnose and treat conditions of the neck.

Causes of Neck Pain

Soft tissue strains and injuries are the most common causes of neck pain. However, muscle tension in the neck, shoulders and upper back can also trigger headaches and cause vertebrae to become misaligned, which can lead to a number of other painful conditions.

A comprehensive exam could include functional tests, hands-on evaluation of the neck area, and possibly diagnostic imaging, such as x-ray, CT scan or MRI. If a pinched nerve is suspected, electromyography (EMG) could be recommended, while blood tests can uncover inflammation and infection.

Common causes of neck pain include but are not limited to:

  • Muscle strains (caused by a wide range of activities or trauma, such as poor posture, car accidents, and gritting your teeth)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Degeneration in neck joints
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Nerve compression, pressure or irritation
  • Herniated discs
  • Collisions that cause the head to jerk forward, backward or sideways
  • Stingers or burners that temporarily injure the spinal nerve route or brachial plexus
  • Fractures and dislocations
  • Spinal tumor or infection
  • Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer

Treatments for Neck Pain

At Natural Healthcare Center, we take a team approach to the treatment of neck pain, using a conservative approach that focuses on stimulating the body’s built-in self-healing abilities. Based on the type of neck pain you’re experiencing, your physical condition, and the root cause of your neck pain, we might recommend a combination of chiropractic care, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and clinical nutrition.

We’ll also educate you about practicing good posture, arranging your desk in a way that reduces strain on your neck, the proper way to lift and carry heavy loads, choosing the right pillow, and sleeping in a position that’s healthy for your neck. It’s important to keep in mind that imbalances in one area of the body can cause pain in another, which is why we treat the whole person, not just a specific area.

Did You Know…

  • The phrase “pain in the neck” is believed to date back to about 1900 and refers to an annoyance, nuisance or inconvenience, all of which could be a person, place or situation. This is a more polite version of a phrase that focuses on pain in another area of the body.
  • The “Adam’s apple,” the part of the larynx that sticks out more in men than women, is a phrase largely attributed to Adam choking on a forbidden apple, although that isn’t exactly what happened in the Bible.
  • The neck is made up of seven cervical vertebrae and 26 muscles – 10 pairs of two muscles, and two sets of three – which attach to the skull, spine, thoracic cage, and shoulder girdle.

Are You Experiencing Neck Pain?

If you’re dealing with neck pain, schedule an appointment at Natural Healthcare Center. Let us diagnose and treat the root cause of your neck pain so you can feel better, function better and live longer.

Flagship Office

10 West End Court
Long Branch, NJ 07740
P: (732) 222-2219
(732) 229-8863
Monday: 8AM-7PM
Tuesday: 8AM–7PM
Wednesday: 8AM–7PM
Thursday: 9AM–3PM
Friday: 8AM–7PM
Saturday: 9AM–1PM
Sunday: Closed

Middletown Office

9 Leonardville Rd
Middletown, NJ 07748
P: (732) 671-9005
(732) 671-9006
Monday: 9AM–8PM
Tuesday: 10-3PM
Wednesday: 9AM–8PM
Thursday: 9AM–8PM
Friday: 9AM–6PM
Saturday: 10AM–1PM
Sunday: Closed