Neck problems can be very painful and limiting to our daily lives. Pain in the neck and upper shoulder area can affect your ability to work at your desk, sit at a computer or read a book, limit the ability to turn your head, and influence your ability to get a good nights rest. Some people will experience headaches along with neck pain which can make this worse.
Many people will seek the help of a chiropractor to help with neck pain. In most cases, the treatment will include "adjustments" (or popping) to the neck region. Adjustments or manipulation to the neck has been shown to help some people-in fact, I will use it occasionally for the right type of patient. However, it is not helpful for everyone and if that is the only way a clinician knows how to treat a neck, that will be what you get. In addition, adjustments/manipulation (no matter who performs it) has been shown to only give temporary pain relief. This can leave a patient frustrated and having to go back for multiple treatments-sometimes for many months or years!
Manual therapy for neck pain can definitely include adjustments or manipulations if appropriate for you. however, it is not the only hands-on treatment that can be beneficial. There are other ways to help the spine move without "cracking" the neck. In addition, there are a lot of muscles in the neck region that many times can benefit from treatment to help them feel less sore and tight.
Exercises for neck pain should include some to maintain or improve the motion that is gained from treatments. This can include some exercises to help your spine move easier or some to help decrease the tightness in the muscles. Also, research is showing the importance of doing exercises to strengthen the muscles of your neck and upper back region. These are simple exercises that can be done at home once you know what to do.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, you need to understand why your neck may be hurting, understand factors that can be contributing to your pain, and what changes you can make to help yourself when you have pain and to decrease the risk of your pain coming back. This may include understanding that your spine does not go out of alignment, how lack of sleep, stress, or job satisfaction can affect your pain, and how changing your posture or position throughout the day may help.
Like many other painful conditions, treatment should not just be one thing-in this case, neck adjustments/manipulation. Pain is complex and having someone to help you address all factors that can be contributing to your pain and helping you through it, is very important. If you have been getting adjustments with only temporary relief, and are still struggling with repeated neck pain episodes, please feel free to contact me so we can discuss other options for helping you get over this and attain longer lasting relief.
Thanks for reading,