Chiropractic Care for Neck Pain
Chiropractic is an approach that manipulates the spine and joints to relieve neck and back pain. It’s a popular therapy that does not involve medication, an important consideration for many people.
By Dr. Hitender Sabharwal, DC
People in Denver experiencing neck pain often turn to chiropractic care for help. Some swear by chiropractors, saying the work they perform not only relieves pain, but also often addresses the source of their aches, twinges, and throbs. There are more than 60,000 licensed chiropractors in the United States today, and about 8 percent of American adults and 3 percent of children have had chiropractic care to treat their pain, according to a recent survey. That’s a higher percentage than those who use other alternative therapies like yoga, massage, and acupuncture.
Chiropractic: How Neck Pain Is Treated
The word chiropractic is from the Greek words for hand (cheir) and action (praxis) — practitioners primarily use their hands to treat muscle, joint, and nerve pain by adjusting the spine and joints. Adjustments involve the chiropractor applying controlled but sudden force to a joint, pushing the joint beyond the range in which it normally moves. This is intended to loosen up joints that move poorly or painfully due to tissue damage or scarring caused by either trauma or repetitive stress. An example of trauma causing neck pain is whiplash, while a repetitive stress injury could be from consistently poor posture.
For neck pain in particular, chiropractic neck adjustments, called cervical manipulation, loosen up the joints of the cervical vertebrae in the neck, and this can reduce pain caused by pinched nerves and muscle spasms. Chiropractors use their hands to twist the neck sharply and snap the vertebrae back into alignment.
Chiropractic: Finding a Practitioner
Chiropractors are trained to diagnose patients through physical exams as well diagnostic tests. Treatment plans may include neck exercises to do on your own and suggestions for a healthier lifestyle; chiropractors do not prescribe neck pain medication as part of their treatment. Practicing chiropractors in the United States are required to receive a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from a properly accredited college. Admission to a chiropractic college requires three years of undergraduate work. Chiropractic college is a four-year program, during which the chiropractors-in-training will learn in the classroom and provide hands-on care to patients. For specialized training, chiropractors undertake an additional two- or three-year residency.
Every state has its own regulations for chiropractors that cover the techniques they are able to practice; some may perform acupuncture, for instance. To find a chiropractor in your area, ask your primary care physician for a recommendation or contact the American Chiropractic Association.
When evaluating a chiropractor, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests asking about the professional‘s licensing and training, and whether that training included the specific problem you‘re experiencing.