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Should I see a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist for my Chronic Neck Pain?

Posted in Neck Pain Disorders on Jan 04, 2021

A recent study has found that people suffering from chronic neck pain experienced more relief when receiving manual therapy in addition to standard physiotherapy exercises. 

In other words, a combination of specific chiropractic plus physiotherapy may work better than just one or the other.

For people suffering chronic neck pain, it may be like solving a combination lock. A standard combination lock has three numbers that need to be solved in the correct sequence, or else the lock doesn’t open.

You can have all three numbers correct, but if they are in the wrong order, nothing happens. You can solve the first two numbers in the right sequences, but until you have the last number, nothing happens. But if you try to solve the combination with only the third number, skipping the first two, nothing happens either.

For many people with chronic neck pain, it may be possible that the reason you have not experienced significant relief is that you are not dealing with just one issue.

You may actually need to have a combination of therapies - possibly even in a certain sequence - all working on the same page together to achieve the relief that you have been long seeking.

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Is the Atlas the missing piece of the puzzle with chronic neck pain?

The atlas, or C1 vertebra, is the bone that supports the weight of your skull at the top of your neck. It protects your brainstem, which is the master control center for your nerve system.

Physical problems with the motion or alignment in the upper neck have been linked with a wide variety of health ailments including headaches, migraines, neck pain, TMJ pain, vertigo, dizziness, fibromyalgia, post-concussion syndrome, and even certain types of neurological conditions.

The dynamics of the upper neck are unlike any other part of your spine and represents a potential sub-specialty in healthcare. There are chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths, and ever surgeons, whose exclusive focus is on the health of the upper neck.

Alas, this critical area of the body often goes overlooked in healthcare.

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In other words, you can have your entire spine including your lower neck from C2-C7 working perfectly … but if the alignment and motion up at the very top between your skull and C1 are not correct, nothing else will work as well as possible.

Therefore, when solving the puzzle of chronic neck pain, one of the key elements may be to examine the physical alignment of the atlas.

In conjunction with the other exercises, therapies, and activities that you are already doing, only then maybe it possible for you to find the relief you have long been seeking, for your chronic neck pain.

And it is not because there is anything “magic” pre say when the atlas is aligned.

It may just so happen that it is the last piece of the puzzle, which is why it appears that way.

 

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What’s the Difference between an Upper Cervical Chiropractor and a Vestibular Physiotherapist?

An upper cervical chiropractor is a chiropractor, who has completed additional study and certification in the role of the upper neck and its effect on the health of your nerve system.

An upper cervical chiropractor performs a series of physical and neurological tests in addition to specialised x-ray imaging in order to determine the exact direction and degree of any misalignments in your upper neck. With this information, they are able to make a precise series of corrections without twisting or cracking that work to restore the normal alignment of your atlas.

A vestibular physiotherapist is a physiotherapist, who has completed additional study and certification on the muscular connections between the neck and the function of your nerve system.

A vestibular physiotherapist also performs a series of tests to determine how well your brain is able to process neck pain, pressure, and proprioceptive (aka balance) information, which can affect your health, With this information, they are able to preside a series of exercises that help your brain to better integrate information, which can help reduce vertigo, dizziness and even chronic neck pain.

Especially when people have been dealing with extraordinarily complex neck pain and other health issues, it often takes the combined strength of an upper cervical chiropractor and a vestibular physiotherapist working together to help solve the problem of chronic neck pain … and often with the assistant of a neuromuscular dentist too!

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So you see, as much as we all wish it could be a simple flick-of-the-switch to solve issues of chronic neck pain, it is not always the case. 

Furthermore, if any one person had all the answers, they would be the only person that anyone would need to see. However, neither chiropractors nor physiotherapists nor any other health or medical field has all the answers.

Therefore, especially when dealing with complex chronic neck pain and similar problems, it may take a combination of doctors and therapists all working together to achieve the best possible results.

 

Where to find an upper cervical chiropractor?

If you have been dealing with chronic neck pain and have been around the block already looking for answers but have not seen an upper cervical specific chiropractor to assess the alignment of your atlas, you may be missing one of the critical pieces of the puzzle.

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Atlas Health is the leader in upper cervical chiropractic care in Australia. Located in North Lakes (north Brisbane), we care for people with chronic and often challenging health conditions - including chronic neck pain - who are seeking long term solutions so that they can enjoy the best quality of life possible. Our clients visit from across the greater Brisbane and Sunshine Coast regions, many also traveling from across Queensland or even interstate.

Our principal, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, is an advanced certified instructor through the Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic Society. He is an international lecturer, published author, and recognized leader in the field of upper cervical specific chiropractic care.

One of the offers that Dr. Hannah likes to offer is a complimentary 15-minute phone conversation so that you can discuss your specific case and ask any questions that you may have so that you can decide if care may be right for you.

If you would like to schedule a no-obligation consultation with Dr. Hannah, you can click the Contact Us link on this page, or call us direct at 07 3188 9329.

We hope that this article has provided you with hope and value that you may be able to experience relief from chronic beck pain.

We look forward to hearing from you and shall do our best to help.

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Atlas Health Australia - “Hope, healing, and wellbeing from above-down, inside-out.” 

 

 

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Mingels S, Dankaerts W, Granitzer M. Is There Support for the Paradigm 'Spinal Posture as a Trigger for Episodic Headache'? A Comprehensive Review. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2019 Mar 4;23(3):17. doi: 10.1007/s11916-019-0756-2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30830498

Millstine D, Chen CY, Bauer B. Complementary and integrative medicine in the management of headache. BMJ. 2017 May 16;357:j1805. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j1805. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28512119 

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Wong JJ, Shearer HM, Mior S, et al. Are manual therapies, passive physical modalities, or acupuncture effective for the management of patients with whiplash-associated disorders or neck pain and associated disorders? An update of the Bone and Joint Decade Task Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders by the OPTIMa collaboration. Spine J. 2016 Dec;16(12):1598-1630. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2015.08.024. Epub 2015 Dec 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26707074

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