Neck pain is one of those common conditions that seems to affect just about each and every one of us at some time. But when “some time” becomes “all the time” it is vital to find relief. The neck is made up of seven bones called vertebrae. The top two bones in the neck, the C1 and C2, provide your head with more than half of its ability to move up and down or side to side. They also balance the skull, which can weigh about 12 pounds for an adult. If you are suffering from constant pain, recurrent pain, or limited range of movement, the issue may be in this top part of the neck – the upper cervical spine.
What causes the neck to become a painful spot? We are going to take a look at the top causes of neck pain, as well as a few ways to prevent these issues from occurring. However, if you are already dealing with pain, you need to find relief first, so we will conclude with a natural way to get the help you need.
Common Neck Pain Causes
Here are some of the usual ways that neck pain begins.
- Misalignment – This is an obvious one. When a neck bone is misaligned, it can lead to changes in the surrounding soft tissue. These changes can cause pain and affect the range of movement of a person’s head. If a nerve is pinched or irritated by the misalignment, you may experience pain that radiates away from the neck. Burning sensations, as well as numbness and tingling, can also occur.
- Trauma – This underlying issue goes right along with misalignments because an accident or injury can be what results in the subluxation in the first place. Whiplash injuries are often blamed for neck pain, but the fact is that an accident at just 5 mph can lead to long-term neck issues. Head injuries can also lead to neck problems. Any time the head is jarred suddenly, the C1 (atlas), which balances the head, is going to take part of the hit. Unfortunately, head and neck injuries are often treated with rest alone. While this is important, you also need to have any damage that was caused by the injury corrected so that long-term effects do not take hold.
- Disc Degeneration – In between the vertebrae are spongy discs that keep the bones from rubbing together. If the discs begin to wear away due to injury or wear and tear, it can lead to nerve irritation. In bad cases, the disc can bulge or rupture allowing the inner material to push out through the protective layers. The results can be very painful, so taking care of the spine’s protective discs is important.
- Osteoarthritis – As the cartilage between the vertebrae becomes worn down, the joints can be more painful to move. While this is more common in the knees, hands, and feet, the neck can be affected as well.
- Spinal Stenosis – The spinal cord passes through a canal which runs through the vertebrae. When this canal begins to narrow, spinal stenosis has occurred. There are a number of factors that can lead to this painful condition including bone spurs, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis. Misalignments of the vertebrae can cause this condition to develop and progress rapidly.
Neck Pain Prevention Techniques
While some of these things are impossible to prevent, here are a few tips for keeping your neck in good shape.
- Use good posture – Poor posture can cause the discs to degenerate faster, leading to misalignments, spinal stenosis, arthritis, and other painful neck conditions.
- Limit technology use – The neck doesn’t normally have an issue holding up the 12-pound head. However, when you crane your neck forward at a 60-degree angle to look at a smartphone over and over throughout the day, this creates 60 pounds of pressure on the neck. The results can be pain, stiffness, and misalignments.
- Sleep well – Using the right pillow is a must, especially if you find your neck pain is worse when you wake up in the morning. Sleep on your back or side for the best results. Stomach sleepers battle neck strain because you have to keep your head turned to one side all night in order to breathe.
- Drive safely – Car accidents are one of the most common causes of head and neck injuries, so always drive safely and wear your seatbelt.
- See an upper cervical chiropractor – We specialize in keeping the C1 and C2 in proper alignment, so you can stave off early degeneration of the vertebrae and discs. Haven’t heard of upper cervical care? Here are a few things you should know.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic for Natural Neck Pain Relief
Sometimes a pain reliever is a must, so you can make it through the work day while coping with neck pain. But pain meds don’t correct the underlying problem, especially if it is a misalignment. Upper cervical chiropractors focus on the top two bones in the neck. We are trained to find the tiny misalignments that can lead to long-term neck problems. Correcting these misalignments has led to fast-acting and long-lasting relief for many patients.
Upper cervical adjustments are low-force. There is none of the cracking or popping you probably associate with chiropractic. This precise and safe form of care may be just what you need to get control over recurring neck pain, so contact a practitioner near you today to learn more.
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