Neck Pain Problems
How do you treat Neck Pain Problems?
What are the symptoms of neck problems?
Are you the type of person who believes it is better to prevent problems than it is to chase after a cure?
Or that it is better to fix problems when they are small than to wait until they are big?
Or that natural treatment is preferable to things that aren't natural and could have more adverse side effects?
If so, we are on the same page! Now let's take this and have a look at how this may apply to neck problems by asking one more question:
Do you believe that pain is the ONLY or even most reliable way to know that you have a neck problem?
Consider your teeth as an example. Do you brush and floss? Why? It's to prevent cavities. However, if a cavity start to form, who usually finds it first? You or your dentist?
Depending on its location and size, the pain of a cavity doesn't usually appear until the damage has been happening for a white a while: months or maybe even years!
Your dentist is usually the one who catches the early signs of cavities or tooth decay - often before you have any pain at all - and the reason that they then recommend a filling is to prevent further damage.
So is it possible that your neck and your spine could be similar? That is, is it possible that by the time that you experience neck pain that there has actually been long term issue affecting your spine, your health and your wellbeing run ways that you may not have even considered?
Here are some of the common symptoms that you may experience that indicate that you have a neck problem even before you experience neck pain:
- Difficulty concentrating or with memory
- General moodiness or irritability for no known reason
- Heaviness in the head
- Brain fog
- Stiffness or tight muscles in your neck or shoulders (that is often blamed on stress or "just getting older" ... but it isn't!)
- Abnormal posture (that is often blamed on laziness or phones or computers ... but that is only the tip of the iceberg!)
You'll notice that I didn't mention anything about pain here! Of course, once you feel neck pain or neck problems, that is a sure-fire symptom that there is a neck problem that you need to address. The questions then become, "What is the nature of the neck problem?" and "What is the best treatment for a neck problem?"
Is neck pain a sign of cancer?
It can be, but usually that is not the first sign. Let's put it this way. Before you can see osteoporosis on an x-ray, there is already 50-70% loss of bone density and destruction ... and that may or may not be with any pain at all!
In other words, there are many more possibilities that are way more likely than cancer to explain neck pain.
There is an expression in medical and healthcare that goes like this: "Common things happen commonly, and rare things happen rarely."
So the better question might be, "What is actually more likely than cancer to cause neck pain?"
Irrespective, it is one of the reasons that if you do experience neck pain that you get the right information and the right tests to determine what is going on.
Too often, neck pain is simply blamed on inflammation, arthritis, or getting older.
I once heard about a doctor who didn't believe in referring patients for cervical x-rays, aka neck x-rays because - and I quote - "All that it will show is arthritis, and everyone has arthritis."
... Well isn't that the very point! When it comes to dentistry, 92% of the population has had at least one cavity in their life! It is that common!
And so how do you know? Your dentist sees signs of tooth decay, takes a few x-rays to find out the extent of the problem, determines if the problem can be resolved with a filling (or if more significant treatment is necessary), and then recommends the appropriate treatment.
So why should neck pain be any different? I anything, I would argue that neck pain and neck problems are actually more significant but so seldom considered.
I would go so far as to say that we have a silent epidemic, if not pandemic on our hands when it comes to neck problems and the impact that they have on health and wellbeing.
But is anyone talking about it? No.
What is the worst painkiller for neck pain?
Let me say this: there is a time and place for all things in health and medical science including painkillers! Let me illustrate two examples.
In 2017, I suffered an episode of acute appendicitis that required surgery. And thank God for the morphine that took the edge off so that I could get through the night before the surgery!
A second example, I have worked with many people over the years who have such severe damage in their bodies that medication is the only thing that takes the edge off the pain so that they can function. Would I ever tell these people to stop taking something that helps them live a relatively normal life? Of course not!
I believe that all of the best doctors in the world will agree with me that the fewer medications at the lowest possible dose that is necessary for the preservation of life - and for the highest quality of life that is achievable - is ideal.
The problem is when the painkiller for neck pain, back pain, etc becomes the first and/or only line of defense.
Then we run into what is now known in the news as the Opioid Epidemic. If you are not familiar with the problem, the very abridged version is as follows:
- From a young age, we learn through the media that if we experience neck pain that the solution is some type of over-the-counter medication. ... To treat the symptom but not the address the underlying cause.
- If that type of painkiller doesn't work, then we go to the doctor to get a prescription for a higher-strength painkiller (e.g., Oxycontin, Lyrica, Valium, etc)
- The problem is that these substances are highly addictive, attaching to the same molecular receptors in the brain and body as heroin or opium. What compounds the problem is the myth of pan-pharmacology, which is the belief that the cure for pain and disease is through the use of drugs or other pharmaceutical agents to the exclusion of other potential remedies.
- The result was that the strong painkillers were becoming over-prescribed, creating further states of dependency, thus creating a generation of people now addicted to the medication and still experiencing the same pain that they sought relief in the first place.
What is my point in this discussion?
It is simply that pain killers for neck pain should be used only as a temporary stop-gap measure to provide relief when necessary as you seek a solution for the cause of the neck pain in the first place.
In other words, the pain is just the symptom - the effect! If you truly want to find a long-lasting solution for neck pain or other problems, you will not find the answer you seek in a tablet.
It will require you to take a deeper look to identify the cause of your neck pain or neck problems in the first place.
What is the best treatment for degenerative disc disease in the neck?
So let's go back to the idea of arthritis and spinal decay (i.e., spondylosis or arthritis), which can lead to degenerative disc disease, which is bulging discs in the neck that can produce neck pain or pressure on the nerves that go to your hands.
But even the bulging discs and degenerative arthritis might also not be the source of your neck pain or problems either! The discs themselves might also be only the effect of a different process that is going on.
You see, neck arthritis is not simply the result of getting older! It is the result of some type of old injury that your body has attempted to stabilize. The problem is that the compensations can only last for so long until you start to experience neck pain or other problems.
Let's say that you have a set of tires on your car and that the tread on only one of the tires wears down. Would you presume that you have a tire problem or a wheel alignment problem that has caused premature wearing on that one tire?
I would argue that the second issue - the alignment problem that causes the tire wear - is far more likely!
So when it comes to degenerative disc disease in the neck, we also need to look at it as the effect of something else, not solely as the cause. But even that is not the whole story! It is because many people with neck arthritis don't experience any neck pain at all!
So as easy as it often is to blame neck pain on arthritis, the truth is that may not be the actual source of the problem.
There could be something else entirely going on!
It may also explain why even people who take natural neck pain vitamins or supplements such as turmeric, herbs or other natural anti-inflammatory substances can still experience neck pain or neck problems.
It is because the cause of their neck pain is NOT inflammation, it is NOT arthritis, and it is NOT chemical in nature.
It is possible that the cause of your neck problem can instead be the result of something else going on in your neck that has not yet been diagnosed.
So what is that something? Well, let me propose that the problem could well be a misalignment at the base of your skull that has caused a structural "frameshift" that has lead to the current neck problems that you experience.
Let me explain how this happens.
How do you relieve a pinched nerve in the neck?
As an upper cervical chiropractic doctor, who focuses on the relationship between the cervical spine (neck) and the nervous system, it is fascinating and disappointing at the same time that people understand the importance of tooth care (i.e., brushing and flossing) way better than they understand the importance of taking care of their neck, which is the literal lifeline to their wellbeing!
Here's what happens. Through life, all kinds of stuff happen to your body. Physical knocks, bruises, falls, etc. It happens to everyone!
The first problem is that people don't realize that there are different types of injuries. There are obvious ones like broken bones, dislocations, and sprains that cause pain or bruising. But then there are also less obvious injuries that you do not always feel that cause misalignment between the joints of your body.
These types of injuries typically affect the way that your body moves, and now what you feel ... at least until the problem gets severe enough - like a snowball rolling down a mountain - to where it enters your conscious perception. That is the reason as I said in the very beginning of this article that neck pain is often not the first symptom of a neck problem.
So my the time that many people finally experience neck pain or other health problems, the issue has actually been there for a long time!
That leads me to the second problem, which is that our culture believes the myth that, "Feeling good means that I am healthy and that I'm only not healthy when I don't feel good." This is simply not true, and yet we are still bombarded with this message every time we turn on the computer, TV, or open a magazine.
Consider the amount of movement that happens between the joints in your neck: approximately 10-20mm. A single millimeter of displacement is only the thickness of your fingernail and represents maybe a 5% source of irritation to the nerves in your neck.
Not much right? Well, consider these points:
- All it takes is the accumulative pressure of the weight of a 10 cent coin to decrease the firing capacity of a nerve by 50% in just 15 minutes.
- The top bones in your neck - the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) - have a unique relationship with your nervous system, in that they are tightly tethered onto your brainstem, which is the master control center for all function in your body. This arrangement is designed to protect your brainstem from injury when you move your neck. However, if these vertebra have been injured and misaligned - even a millimeter - the resulting tension may be transferred directly back into your nerves, causing neck pain or other dysfunction
- Again, even though we are talking about only a 5% potential displacement, might you imagine what the compound interest of NOT fixing this 5% might be over a few months, years, or even decades?
I use the analogy of a house payment. Assuming that your bank allowed this to happen, how much would you owe your bank in extra interest charges if you did not pay your mortgage for even 1 year?
Can you imagine what that number might look like in 5 years? 10 years? Or even longer?!
This is the unfortunate situation that so many people find themselves in when they discover the real reason for their neck pain. That the problem isn't the pinched nerve or the disc damage or one the neck pain ... because these are all the symptoms: the effects.
The problem is an underlying problem with the alignment and motion of the bones in their neck that, like a cavity, didn't cause any initial neck pain or problems. But instead of realizing that these problems need treatment (like going to the dentist to fix a cavity), they just put up with the neck pain or neck problems for so long until finally they have the issue properly identified.
And then they discover that what they actually needed so long ago was a chiropractic doctor to help them.
Can chiropractic hurt your neck?
"Chiropractic" is an interesting profession in that is it is stereotyped as a bunch of naturals, albeit pseudo-medical doctors who "crack" your neck. Sometimes it works, and other times it doesn't, but it usually involves a lot of work, and so it's easier to see the physiotherapist because they're kind of the same thing but more accepted by the medical doctor.
Something like that, right?
I've met people for 5 seconds in passing in the shopping center: one who have scorned me when I introduced myself as a chiropractic doctor (someone I'd never met before!); and I've also met one fellow who told me (without me asking) that their own chiropractor saved their life. What a fascinating spread!
I can't speak for all chiropractors out there, but what I will share with you now is the approach that I take, and I ask simply if what you have learned in this article makes logical and emotional sense that you simply keep your mind open to a different approach that may be able to help, you, especially if you do experience neck pain.
It is because the type of work that we do at Atlas Health Brisbane Chiropractic is markedly different from what the vast majority of people think of as chiropractic in Australia.
First, who we are and what we do that is different.
We are what is known as "upper cervical specific" or "Atlas chiropractors." This means that we focus on the unique relationship between your atlas (C1 vertebrae) - and also the other bones in the neck - and how they have the potential to affect that life-center of your body: your brainstem.
If you are not familiar with this term - upper cervical specific - it is because it is developed and researched in the USA with only a small handful (less than 0.5%) of all chiropractors in Australia using it! Not only are we the only North Lakes chiropractor who uses this work, but as of 2019, we are still the only Brisbane chiropractor who focuses on this special division or healthcare.
(My introduction to this precise and powerful work was because I went to school in the USA - 9 years worth of study - PLUS all the post-doctorate course that go with it I actually now teach this work as a Blair Upper Cervical instructor so that we might soon have more upper cervical chiropractic doctors in Australia to help a great many people who need this work but don't currently have access to it).
The way that it works starts with a detailed examination including 3D x-rays. Personally, it baffles me that so many people work to adjust or manipulate the neck to do so without checking first what they are actually working with.
Can you imagine a dentist who wants to drill your teeth to fill cavities without doing the dental x-rays first? Yes, it can be done ... but it introduces greater potential for error in my experience.
By doing the appropriate tests first so that we can identify the exact degree of any misalignments in your neck - reiterating that it is the most important neurological center for the function of your brain and body - we know WHERE and HOW we need to focus our effort and MINIMISE the potential for injury or hurting your neck in order to work towards the best possible outcome when it comes to your neck health.
Is neck cracking by chiropractor dangerous?
Only when it is done the wrong way.
Again, that is the very reason that we do the specialized tests that we do. Typically, the clients who we see are the ones with the type of neck conditions that have not responded to the normal types of therapies.
Part of the reason, we discover is because the nature of their condition is different! Think of it like trying to put a screw into place with a hammer. Or even a screw using the wrong type of bit. It just doesn't work!
Instead, what we make sure that we do is take the necessary tests first. That way, we can make sure that the adjustment procedure that we use is the appropriate one for you.
Moreover, the information from your tests shows us the exact degree of your misalignment in your neck. Therefore, we don't need to use typical spinal manipulation in order to correct the alignment of your neck. In fact, there is NO NECK CRACKING OR TWISTING with the upper cervical specific procedure that we use.
The total amount of force that we use is actually the amount that you would use to feel your pulse. The lighter and quicker the better!
Now, it is not to say that any other procedure is more dangerous or anything like that. We have simply found in our experience that if we can minimize discomfort and increase accuracy, we can also minimize risk.
Can chiropractic neck adjustments cause a stroke?
Especially with upper cervical specific chiropractic - in the way that it is done - the research is pretty clear that this the chiropractic neck adjustment does not cause a stroke.
This myth is commonly perpetuated by enemies of chiropractic. The research has revealed that the odds are about one in 5-6 million experiencing a stroke after a cervical manipulation involving rotation of the neck. So is it possible? Yes, it is possible. But the research has also concluded that it is not probably, and no more likely than it would be if you were simply reversing in your car from your driveway.
And that is the thing with a Blair upper cervical chiropractic adjustment: there is NO ROTATION, and I repeat, NO CRACKING. It would reason thus that the risk of stroke would be even less.
A study in 2012 revealed that reactions - more commonly soreness in the neck, a headache, lightheadedness, or dizziness - occur in about 30% of people, and usually not more than a day or so. With all things in the medical and healthcare arena, there is also the possibility of risk. Nevertheless, there is a BIG DIFFERENCE between risk and risky.
At Atlas Health in North Lakes chiropractor, it is one of our principles to never do anything risky.
Where is the closest atlas chiropractor near me?
Our practice - Atlas Health Australia - is the first, and still only Blair upper cervical healthcare center in Brisbane. We do wish that there were more practitioners in the south Brisbane, Capalaba, Cleveland, Beenleigh, Ipswich, Toowoomba, and southeast Queensland areas. However, at the moment we are still the nearest.
It is not common for many of our local clients to need to travel 60-90 minutes in one direction. And though certainly not ideal, we are glad to offer that.
For people in the more local communities including North Lakes, Mango Hill, Narangba, Dakabin, Albany Creek, Aspley, Everton Park, Morayfield, North Harbour, and Burpengary, certain things are much easier.
Our practice is conveniently located along the Bruce Highway to service both the greater Brisbane and south Sunshine Coast communities, and also only 30 minutes from the Brisbane airport to provide care for people who travel interstate also.
If you have been dealing with a chronic neck problem and unable to find a solution that has worked for you, we would like therefore to have a chat with you. If you would like to schedule a free 15-minute over the phone assessment, we can schedule a time to speak with one of our upper cervical chiropractic doctors to discuss your condition, if care may be right for you, and to answer any questions you may have.
If you would like to claim this complimentary offer, please click the Contact Us button, or give us a ring at the office direct at 07 3188 9329. We would be happy to assist in any way that we can.
Atlas Health Australia - A purpose and passion for helping people to live well.
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