As a NUCCA chiropractor in Oklahoma City, I help patients resolve their neck pain. Along with lower back pain, neck pain is a widespread complaint among people and a leading reason for visits to healthcare providers.
Explaining the Structure of the Neck
Neck pain often stems from issues within the musculoskeletal system, which involves the vertebrae of the spine, muscles and ligaments. They give the spine needed support. However, the flexibility of the neck can be a positive and negative thing – it enables the broad range of motion of the head but makes it vulnerable to wear and tear and injuries.
Also called the cervical spine, the neck consists of seven vertebrae. They are mostly similar and separated by intervertebral discs, which function as shock absorbers for the spine. The topmost vertebrae in the neck – the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) – are one-of-a-kind bones as they support the entire weight of the head and enable the majority of its movement.
The brainstem facilitates the flow of messages between the brain and the body. It passes through a canal that runs through the center of the C1 and C2 vertebrae; it is the connection between the brain in the skull and the spinal cord in the spine.
The neck has numerous muscles and ligaments for support. When sudden force flexes the neck rapidly or tears the neck muscles and soft tissues, damage may happen. This is also known as a whiplash injury. Neck pain may not occur right away after the initial injury. It may take months or even years before the symptoms become evident.
Causes of Whiplash Injury
Accidents such as rear-end car collisions are the first thing that comes to mind when we hear of whiplash. However, that’s not the only method in which a whiplash injury can occur. It can also be due to a sports-related accident, physical abuse, or other injuries.
Basically, any accident or event that causes a strong, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck can put stress on the soft tissues and cause problems in the spine. The abrupt extension of the neck can be compared to the cracking of a whip.
Whiplash can negatively affect the following tissues and body parts:
- Intervertebral joints
- Cervical spine muscles
- Nerve roots
- Spinal ligaments
Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash
Neck pain and stiffness are common signs of whiplash. However, there are numerous other symptoms related to a whiplash injury. They may occur immediately following an incident or later in the healing process. Some of the most common signs and symptoms are the following:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Worsening pain after head or neck movement
- Limited or loss of neck range of motion
- Shoulder pain
- Headaches that often begin at the base of the skull
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Backpain (both in the upper and middle back)
- Tingling in the arms or hands or numbness
- Blurred vision
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Poor quality of sleep
- Cognitive problems including difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Mood changes or increased anxiety, irritability, and depression
Whiplash can be more than simple neck pain. Its far-reaching effects can disrupt a person’s ability to do basic daily tasks such as driving a car, cooking, or even taking a bath.
Long-Lasting Relief Is Possible
As a result of their injury, many whiplash patients will have to live through chronic neck pain and accompanying complications. Some of the treatment options available for whiplash patients include a combination of muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and even anti-depressants. The neck might be immovable at some point after the injury.
Regardless of all the treatment options, the truth is that stiffness, neck pain, and other whiplash symptoms may last indefinitely if there is no correction of the underlying injury to the spine. When the head, which typically weighs around 12-13 pounds, jerks back and forth and harms the tissues of the neck, it results in a misalignment of the atlas, the vertebra that is between the neck and bottom of the skull.
Subluxation of the atlas can have a damaging and long-term impact on the body’s ability to heal after a whiplash injury. When the atlas moves out of alignment, it may lead to restriction in the blood flow, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow, and normal function of the central nervous system. The body won’t be able to repair the damage without these three key factors. Oxygenated blood and normal neurological communication are necessary for the tissues to heal and function properly.
Precision Chiropractic in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Can Bring Relief
Upper cervical chiropractic is an area within the chiropractic field that puts attention on correcting misalignments of the atlas. This is the technique we employ in our practice. When the atlas is out of proper alignment, there is an uneven distribution of the weight of the head on top of the neck, forcing the rest of the spine into a stressful position to compensate.
Patients can benefit in many ways when they visit a NUCCA chiropractor in Oklahoma City, such as:
- Thorough Analysis – Upper cervical chiropractors take time to understand patient history by performing a detailed assessment of the injury.
- Gentle and Customized Adjustments – Upper cervical chiropractic care is NOT a one-size-fits-all method. All adjustments are customized for each patient’s needs. It is safe and gentle as there is no forceful twisting or of the neck.
- Precise Corrections – Using diagnostic imaging and x-rays to guide them, chiropractors make adjustments that should hold in place for longer, allowing the body to heal naturally over time.
If you have been dealing with the aftermath of a whiplash injury or chronic neck pain in general, I recommend you try out upper cervical chiropractic care. Call 405-378-3100 and schedule a consultation with me to start this unique form of therapy.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Sheppard, call our Oklahoma City office at 405-873-8134. You can also click the button below. If you are outside of the local area, you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.