Chiropractic treatment is a nonsurgical option that can help reduce neck pain and related symptoms. Below are some of the different types of neck (cervical) conditions that Doctors of Chiropractic (DC’s) treat:
Chiropractors also use manual therapies to treat neck pain:
- Cervical intervertebral disc injuries that don’t require surgery
- Cervical sprain injuries
- Degenerative joint syndrome of the neck (eg, facet joints)
- Facet joint sprain
Chiropractic Diagnosis: Neck Pain
A chiropractor evaluates the spine as a whole because other regions of the neck (cervical), mid back (thoracic) and low back (lumbar) can be affected as well. Along with treating the spine as a whole, chiropractic medicine treats the entire person and not just a specific symptom/s. Chiropractors may educate on nutrition, stress management, and lifestyle goals in addition to treating neck pain.
A chiropractor will do a thorough examination to diagnose the specific cause of the neck pain before deciding on which approach/technique to use.
They will determine any areas of restricted movement and will look at a walking cycle along with posture and spinal alignment. Doing these things can help the chiropractor understand the body’s mechanics.
In addition to the physical exam, a chiropractor will want to go over past medical history, and they may order imaging tests (eg, an x-ray or MRI) to help them diagnose the exact cause of the neck pain.
All these steps in the diagnostic process will give a chiropractor more information about the neck pain, which will help the chiropractor create a customized treatment plan for the individual patient.
A chiropractor will rule out neck pain conditions that require surgery. If they believe surgery is the best treatment for the neck pain, then the patient will be referred to a spine surgeon.
Chiropractic Treatment: Neck Pain
A chiropractor may use a combination of spinal manipulation, manual therapy, and other techniques as part of the treatment plan.
Spinal Manipulation Techniques Used:
- Flexion-Distraction Technique: Gentle hands-on spinal manipulation that involves a pumping action on the intervertebral disc rather than direct force.
- Instrument Assisted Manipulation: Uses hand-held instruments, which allow the chiropractor to apply force without thrusting into the spine.
- Specific Spinal Manipulation: Restores joint movement with a gentle thrusting technique.
Chiropractors also use manual therapies to treat neck pain.
- Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Therapy: uses special instruments to diagnose and treat muscle tension.
- Manual Joint Stretching/Resistance Techniques: Helps reduce neck pain/symptoms.
- Therapeutic Massage: Helps relax tense muscles.
- Trigger Point Therapy is used to relieve tight, painful points on a muscle.
Other therapies used to ease neck pain symptoms.
- Inferential Electrical Stimulation: Is a low frequency electrical current used to stimulate neck muscles.
- Ultrasound: Sound waves travel into the muscle tissues to help stiffness and pain in the neck.
Therapeutic Exercises: Helps improve overall range of motion in the neck and prevent neck pain from progressing.
The treatments listed are examples of possible chiropractic treatment for neck pain; The actual treatment plan will depend on the diagnosis. A chiropractor will thoroughly explain the treatment options available along with the actual customized treatment for the individual patient.