Neck pain is a common condition that affects everyone. Your neck is a complex structure of muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments, and joints. It allows you to look from your left shoulder to 180 degrees in the opposite direction toward your right shoulder. It can tip forward toward your chest or look toward the ceiling. The incredible amount of motion is accomplished by a series of seven cervical vertebrae (neck bones). The neck bones form joints with the bones above and below. There are different types of joints in these vertebrae, which is why we have so much flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral flexion movements.
Each joint complex is an elaborate series of ligaments, joint fluid, orientation of the bones, cartilage, and supportive muscles. Sometimes either the wrong type of movements, or accumulation of movements can aggravate or injure the joints.
When a joint experiences some type of injury, it sends chemical markers that let the rest of the body know it needs repair. Repairing cells come in to the injury and remodel the tissue to strengthen it. Signals are sent to increase blood flow. Nutrients, oxygen, and other important building blocks are transported by the blood. Other chemical markers are released by the injured cells that increase pain sensation. It makes you experience more pain with normal movements.
Ever stub your toe? Even the slightest touch or pressure can cause pain. Normal pressure like rubbing can be painful, that increase pain sensation is caused by those chemicals released from injured cells. It is the body's way of saying, this hurts don't use it. Pain can be a reminder to let things heal and it can't accomplish that with you continuing to use it.
With mild non traumatic neck pain, goals are to decrease the pain and quickly increase the pain free range of motion. Treatment chiropractic or physical therapy modalities include interferential therapy to decrease the inflammatory chemicals released by the injured cells. If there are fewer chemicals being released there will be less pain.
Decreasing the muscle spasms in important. Muscles are in spasm to protect the joints, but often they increase the pain. Getting the muscles to relax through electric therapy, ultrasound, ice, heat, stretching, and cold laser are important. A combination of those treatment modalities and methods can significantly improve the pain free range of motion.
Establishing motion in joints is one of the most important factors in shortening the pain episode. Chiropractic adjustments work because they help improve joint motion. Every joint has pain sensors in it that go off when they haven't moved for a while. Ever sit at a movie theatre and have that urge to shift and straighten your legs? The reason you had that urge is because those joint sensors in your legs hadn't moved in a while and told the brain to move. If you stayed in that position without moving the urge would increase and begin to get painful.
Adjustments work by opening up those joints to relieve the painful signals being sent to the brain. There are different ways of performing an adjustment, and most are very gentle.
Moving joints send a signal to the brain to say, hey I'm okay. The brain responds by sending signals to the muscles to say relax, we do not need to protect the joint this much because it is okay. You've felt this principle when getting out of the bed in the morning. You might be initially sore and unable to walk very well with back pain. But after a few steps everything loosens up. Your walking established movement in the joints, sent a signal to the brain, and the brain sent a signal to the muscles to relax.
Moving joints also block pain signals from being sent to the brain. This is why you rub your toe after stubbing it. Pain is initially being sent to the brain, but you can override that signal by sending up other signals of movement, pressure, and sensation.
Getting movement in joints will greatly decrease your injury intensity, frequency, and duration. Combining this with physical therapy modalities of heat, ice, electric, ultrasound, stretching, and cold laser provide faster relief from your neck pain.
First step is always avoid injuries. If that doesn't work try therapies and treatments to quickly relieve the pain.
More information can be found here on chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy in Chandler. Also, Neck Exercises & Neck Stretches for relieving neck pain.