Neck pain and injuries/whiplash
posted: Jun. 01, 2012.
Neck pain occurs in 9% of adult men and 12% of adult women at any given moment, with 80% of people experiencing neck pain at some point in their lives. Making it an extremely prevalent problem people face. Especially in todays world with computers and texting incorporated in most everyone's lives forcing excessive looking down or flexion in the neck. There are many people have to time off of work due to back pain, but out of the 45% of the working population who experience a stiff neck, most do not take time off and live with the pain and stiffness. As the neck becomes more flexible naturally, it also can cause a loss in protection and create instability. In general, the neck is very delicate, and mild irritants can cause neck pain.
Causes of neck pain
Some possible differential diagnoses of neck pain are facet syndrome, arthritis, whiplash/injury, disc injuries or posture related pain. If injury occurs to the cervical spine, damage can affect the neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which can also cause pain in the shoulders and upper back.
A common injury affecting the neck is whiplash resulting from a motor vehicle accident. Whiplash can be defined as an abrupt force causing your neck to bend forward and then backward, or vice versa. This abrupt change in direction causes microtrauma to the supporting structures and can even result in disc injuries. The patient will more than likely experience Inflammation from the trauma, and can experience stiffness causing limited range of motion, radiating pain, as well as headaches, memory problems and mood swings. Car accidents causing whiplash can often affect not only neck pain, but the shoulders and back if the nerves become irritated. Often times patients who are subject to a car accident are surprised to find that their symptoms won't arise for a few hours to a couple days past the accident, and symptoms don't hit it's peak of severity until a couple weeks past the accident.
How will we determine what's wrong?
Your Bozeman Chiropractor will determine the true cause of your neck pain by conducting a thorough examination of your neck to determine the extent of your injuries. If the patient has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, X-ray will be necessary to determine if there are any fractures or instability present. Once the patient is cleared, the examination by the chiropractor includes muscle, sensory, reflex tests for the upper extremities, orthopedic exams, range of motion of the cervical and thoracic spine as well as muscle and joint palpation. Supporting soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, discs and muscles will also be examined at Gallatin Valley Chiropractic.
Treatment following a whiplash injury is dependent on the severity of the injury, and the results of the imaging required. Conservative treatment will include the patient applying ice to the areas affected for the first 3-4 days to help with inflammation and pain, as well as controlled neck exercises to maintain motion in the area and to prevent excess stiffening of tissues. Gentle mobilization by your chiropractor will be performed at the visit, which is great for reducing pain and restoring normal biomechanical movement into the area. Other modalities such as Kinesiology Taping, dry needling, Active Release, and Graston Technique can be used to help expedite healing of tissues and promote proper collagen realignment. If the patient is experiencing fever, troubling breathing/swallowing, swollen lymph glands, nausea or inability to move they are to go to the emergency room immediately. Often times patients will be co-managed between multiple different physicians such as chiropractic and physical therapy.
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Turn away from Neck Pain. Harvard Health. (2016, May 10). Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/turn-away-from-neck-pain.
Whiplash injury. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/whiplash-injury.