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Neck/Shoulder Pain

Neck/Shoulder Pain Details

by Ellen Bialo, DC

What causes neck pain?

The neck has a big job to do; not only does it provide the main pathway for nerve pathways from the brain to the spine and the rest of the body, but it also has to support the head – all 11 pounds of it! Plus, it needs to turn and twist in multiple ways all day long. With so many strains and stresses, it's no wonder neck pain is a common complaint. Plus, strained muscles and other soft tissue issues in the neck can result in pain and other symptoms that radiate into the upper back and arms, and neck strain is also a common cause of chronic “tension” headaches. In addition to the forces exerted on it through regular motions, the neck can also become strained by poor posture, bad ergonomics at work or school, and carrying heavy bags like backpacks, messenger bags, and large handbags.

How can chiropractic care help me find relief for my neck pain?

Non-force chiropractic uses gentle pressure and stretching in a specific sequence to realign the vertebrae of the neck without "cracking" the spine, relieving nerve impingements and restoring pain-free range of motion. Plus, therapeutic exercises can improve the neck's strength and flexibility to avoid future injury.

How can I prevent neck pain?

Be sure to limit the weight of the loads you carry on a regular basis and use a supportive pillow when you sleep or on long commutes to provide your neck with the rest it needs to prevent irritation and inflammation in the spine and around nerves and muscles. Practice good posture at work and school, and if you use a computer, make sure the screen is properly positioned to avoid strain. Seeing a chiropractor for regular care and gentle adjustments can ensure the spine and the surrounding tissues remain in ideal alignment to avoid irritation.

What are the primary causes of shoulder pain?

The shoulder is a complex joint structure and, as a result, there are many factors that can contribute to shoulder pain, stiffness, and mobility issues. Some of the most common include:

  • injuries to ligaments or tendons, including tendinitis
  • strained muscles
  • nerve injuries and impingements (“pinched” nerves)
  • arthritis
  • inflammation of joint components
  • irritation or inflammation of the rotator cuff
  • chronic dislocation

Many shoulder-related issues can occur as a result of lifting and carrying heavy bags or loads, resulting in an uneven distribution of weight and force. Degenerative changes like arthritis and repetitive strain and overuse injuries are also common, as are injuries following accidents. Sometimes, issues affecting the cervical (neck) spine or even the upper back can cause symptoms to develop in and around the shoulder joint. Effective treatment relies on a thorough exam to understand all the mechanisms involved.

How does chiropractic care work to relieve shoulder pain and discomfort?

Chiropractic care helps relieve shoulder pain by gently rebalancing the forces that are acting on the joint, ensuring the joint components are in proper alignment to reduce strain and inflammation that can press on nerves and interfere with healthy circulation. Plus, non-force adjustments can address stresses in the cervical spine that can cause symptom to radiate into the shoulder and upper arms.

Is there anything I can do to prevent painful shoulder symptoms?

Supporting your neck and upper back when you're standing or sitting for long periods of time and even when you sleep can help avoid some symptoms. Staying active and using gentle therapeutic stretching and exercise techniques may also help. At the first sign of pain, seeing a chiropractor for a gentle, non-force adjustment can ensure symptoms don't become worse, and regular adjustments proactively prevent many painful issues from developing.


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