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Neck Pain – Can Chiropractic Really Help?

Neck pain is a very common problem affecting up to 70% of the adult population at some point in life.  Though there are specific causes of neck pain such as arising from a sports injury, a car accident or “sleeping crooked,” the vast majority of the time, no direct cause can be identified and thus the term nonspecific is applied.

There are many symptoms associated with patients complaining of neck pain and many of these symptoms can be confused with other conditions.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what neck related symptoms are most likely to respond to chiropractic manipulation before the treatment has started?  This issue has been investigated with very favorable results!

The ability to predict a favorable response to treatment has been termed, “clinical prediction rules” which in general, are usually made up of combinations of things the patient says and findings from exams. In a large study, data from about 20,000 patients receiving about 29,000 treatments, was collected and analyzed to find out what complaints responded well to chiropractic treatment.  The results showed that the presence of any 4 of these 7 presenting complaints predicted an immediate improvement in 70-95% of the patients:

  1. Neck pain.
  2. Shoulder, arm pain.
  3. Reduced neck, shoulder, arm movement.
  4. Stiffness.
  5. Headache.
  6. Upper, mid back pain, and
  7. None or one presenting symptom.

Items not associated with a favorable immediate response included “numbness, tingling upper limbs,” and “fainting, dizziness and light-headedness in 4-12% of the patients.  The “take-home” message here is that was far more common to see a favorable response (70-95%) of the patients compared to an unfavorable response (4-12%), supporting the observation that most patients with neck complaints will respond favorably to chiropractic treatment.

So, what do we do as chiropractors when a patient presents with neck pain?  First, after gathering preliminary information such as name, address and insurance information, a history of the presenting complaint is taken. This consists of information including what started the neck complaint (if you know), when it started, what makes it worse, what makes it better, the quality of pain (aches, stiff, numb, etc.), the location and if there is radiating complaints, the severity (0-10 pain scale), timing (such as worse in the morning, evening, etc.), and if there have been prior episodes.

Various questionnaires are included that are scored so improvement down the road can be tracked and a past history that includes a medication list, past injuries or illnesses, family history and a systems review are standard.  The exam includes vital signs (BP, pulse, height, weight, temperature and respiration), palpation, range of motion, orthopedic and neurological examination.  X-ray and/or other “special tests” may also be included, when needed. A review of all the findings are discussed and after permission to treat is granted, a chiropractic adjustment may then be rendered.

A list treatment options may include:

  1. Adjustments.
  2. Soft tissue therapy (trigger point stimulation, myofascial release).
  3. Posture correction exercises and other exercises/home self-administered therapies.
  4. Education about job modifications.
  5. Co-management with other health care providers if/when needed.

This article is posted courtesy of and with permission of Altadonna Communications, Inc.

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Dr. Walter Salubro’s Comments

Many people have come to Back To Health Chiropractic Centre for neck pain treatment and neck pain relief.  Our purpose is to help alleviate the pain so that your quality of health can be restored to its optimum.  Pain relief is a regularly seen with patients that receive chiropractic care.  However, some of the other important benefits that patients have seen other then pain relief is improved posture, stronger immune system and improved health and function of other body systems and organs.

For instance, we had a patient that came in for treatment of his neck pain.  It was so severe that he couldn’t turn his neck toward his shoulder because it caused him tremendous pain. He also had a noticeable forward head position. Our focus at Back To Health Chiropractic Centre is corrective care, which means that we will help with pain relief. However, the chiropractic care will be focused on restoring the spine and nervous system to normal function.  As well, we help with restoring posture to its optimum position.

Within 8 weeks, by the time complete this patient’s first progress exam, the patient’s neck pain was diminished and his neck mobility returned to normal.  But, the most important improvement he experienced since he started his chiropractic care wasn’t the neck pain relief.  He said that since starting chiropractic care, he no longer suffered or complained of heartburn.  Moreso, he said that he has suffered of heartburn for 25 years and this was the first time in 25 years that he went several weeks with no heatburn. He was so happy with that.

Please note that chiropractic is NO treatment for heartburn. Chiropractic seeks to check for spinal misalignments (misalignments) and correct with the intention of restoring normal function to the nervous system.  A normal functioning nervous system means that the body will be functioning at an optimal level – function, healing, repair.  The body is capable of self-healing and self-regulating.  So often times, with chiropractic care, we see pain being relieved but also the health and function of other organ systems improve as well, just like in this patient.

Look out for future blog posts here for more articles on neck pain, health, wellness and chiropractic.

If you are having neck pain, be sure to seek out a consultation from a chiropractor in your community. Chiropractic may be the answer you are looking for.

If you live in the Maple, Vaughan community, call Back To Health Chiropractic Centre at (905) 303-1009 to see how chiropractic can help you.