Natural Neck Pain Treatment: A Columbia, MO Chiropractor’s Perspective
As a chiropractor, neck pain is one of the most common conditions we treat. Up to 70% of people will experience neck pain in their life, and an estimated 30% will become chronic, which means it persists or keeps coming back. Women are 1.5 times more likely to have neck pain.
A wide variety of traumas, such as car accidents, sports injuries, slips or falls, can cause neck pain.
However, in these modern times, the most common reason for chronic or recurring neck pain is related to our lifestyles. The significant contributors are poor posture, excessive time spent on electronic devices, sleeping posture and pillows, and poor biomechanics like looking down. Every inch forward your neck is in front of your shoulders adds 10 pounds of stress to your neck! All of these lead to subluxations.
Subluxations are problems in your neck and spine that cause pinching and irritation of the nerves, muscles, and other soft tissues. Chiropractors are experts at finding the root cause of your problems, and we work at releasing subluxations. For that reason, chiropractors are expertly positioned to care for your neck pain. Since 30% of cases will become chronic, it’s best not to wait to find out if yours will simply go away.
Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain in Columbia, MO
A patient seeking correction for their neck pain in our office can expect to have a comprehensive consultation and exam. The doctor will sit down with you and listen to what you’re experiencing and what’s important to you. They will often perform a thorough chiropractic, orthopedic, and neurological exam, including X-rays. We desire to get to the root of the problem and help you correct it so that you don’t have to keep coming back in pain.
Our digital motion X-rays are the gold standard for locating spinal problems. Our doctors will be able to zero in on exactly what is causing your problem. Then, the doctor will show you your X-rays so you can see the problem too. We look at the overall alignment of the neck and spine. We examine the disc spaces, spinal curves and mobility, and look for evidence of arthritis or joint degradation.
Your doctor will recommend an appropriate treatment plan to not only help you feel better but to correct the problem too. Your treatment may involve chiropractic adjustments, traction, muscle release therapies, home exercises, and curve restoration. If necessary, we will co-manage with other providers to get you the best possible outcome.
Some of the most common questions regarding neck pain revolve around home remedies, pillows, and nutrition.
These headaches come from the neck but still cause pain in your head. Cervicogenic headaches are more common than people might think. They are good at mimicking other forms of headache, so it often gets misdiagnosed. These are most commonly seen after an accident or from prolonged issues with posture.
Pregnancy is a time of wonder, but also a time of significant change. There are sudden changes in the chemistry of a pregnant woman’s body, which can lead to headaches. There are also changes in the joints that result from the body preparing for the baby’s birth. In these cases, we must work to make lifestyle changes to improve stress and overall health.
These headaches like to happen in clusters of time. For example, they might show up for a few weeks or months and then go away for extended periods. These are some of the most painful headaches, commonly on one side of the head or right behind the eye. People also report eye-watering and sensitivities to lights and sounds. The pain can get so bad it will wake you out of sleep.
Frequently Asked Questions About Neck Pain
Many people will try home remedies for pain before making an appointment; some are more effective than others. Below are some safe and effective treatments you can try to get some relief while you wait for your appointment.
- Hot Epsom Salt Bath – Magnesium (found in Epsom salts) is a mineral the body can absorb through the skin that helps with soreness and aids in the relaxation of the muscles. Go ahead and grab a soaker making sure to use a good full cup or more of Epsom salts.
- Cold Pack – When your neck is sore and inflamed, it’s hot already. Using a cold pack for 20 minutes followed by a 40 minutes break is a good idea. My personal favorite is soaking in a hot bath with Epsom salts while applying an ice pack. You get the best of both worlds.
- Therapy Ball for Trigger Points – I like to use a lacrosse ball, but a tennis ball will work in a pinch. Target those tight, sore muscles and apply gentle pressure for 10-20 seconds. You should always listen to your body and don’t get too aggressive. If any home remedy is painful, stop and let your chiropractor know when you see them.
- Neck Stretches – Gentle neck stretches can feel good, however, don’t use any jerking or quick movements. A slow and sustained stretch is the best option.
- Topical Analgesics – Topicals can offer temporary pain relief and can be used in conjunction with stretching or therapy balls. However, it’s important to note that it is temporary relief, and you still need to have it looked at by your chiropractor to prevent it from becoming a chronic problem.
On average, people spend about one-third of their lives sleeping, so discussing proper sleep and what pillow to use is undoubtedly appropriate. Eight hours of sleeping in a bad position can cause neck pain when you wake up. There are hundreds of pillow options, and many proclaim themselves as “neck pillows,” but there is no one-size-fits-all approach or recommendation here. Please watch the video below for my best sleep tips and what pillows to use.
What we put into our bodies is so very important for helping or hindering healing. While this is just the tip of the iceberg, my best recommendations are these:
- Eat Whole Foods – Stick to minimally processed fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Any grains you consume should be in their whole forms, such as rice, millet, barley, and oats. Steer clear of processed foods that are altered by man or that come in a package. Consume sugar in minimal amounts.
- Stay Hydrated – Muscles cause more problems when they are not adequately hydrated. Adding a little sea salt and lemon to your water will help your cells to stay more hydrated than water alone by adding electrolytes.
- Anti-inflammatory Healthy Fats – Avocados, fish and fish oils, ghee, and coconut oil are all great options. Consuming two thumbs of healthy fats with your vegetables was shown to have better nutrient absorption than eating veggies alone. You must supplement if you can’t or won’t consume these healthy fats.
We accept most health insurance plans, and we are in network with Blue Cross, United Healthcare, and Medicare. We offer payment plans for those who have little or no insurance coverage. Many plans DO include chiropractic benefits with the policy. Ask our staff to do a complimentary benefits check for you when you come in for your first visit.
If your neck pops through stretching or normal range of motion, this is not a concern. However, we do not recommend popping your own neck.
Because so many cases of neck pain turn chronic, we don’t recommend waiting more than 24-48 hours to see your chiropractor when neck pain happens. Feel free to use some of the home remedies shared above until your appointment, and be sure to listen to your body.
Content Written by Dr. Kelli Winarski | DC, Pediatrics and Pregnancy Certified, ART (Active Release Techniques) Full Body Certified, NBCE, National Board of Chiropractic Examiners Part I-IV & Physical Therapy
Content Reviewed by Dr. Collin Zeugin | DC, NBCE, National Board of Chiropractic Examiners Part I-IV & Physical Therapy
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