Chiropractors are rigorously trained to diagnose the different types of neck conditions and to then recommend specific treatment approaches for those conditions.
Chiropractors are specialists in spinal manipulation – an active, hands-on care that returns motion to the spine. With a return of normal spinal mechanics, muscles relax and pain is resolved. Restricted spinal motion — meaning that the spine doesn’t move as easily as it should—can cause neck pain.
Chiropractic has developed a number of treatment approaches in addition to traditional spinal adjustments. These treatment approaches help chiropractors to address a wide range of neck pain conditions.
Neck conditions that respond to chiropractic care include:
- Cervical sprain injuries
- Spinal joint restriction syndromes
- Facet joint sprain
- “Whiplash” sprain injuries
- Cervical disc injuries that don’t require surgery
- Acute torticollis (when the neck muscles stay contracted and can actually cause the neck to stay in a twisted position) and stiff neck
- Degenerative joint syndrome of the neck
- Various types of chronic neck pain
Before deciding which approach or approaches to use for your pain, the chiropractor will do a thorough examination to diagnose the specific cause of your pain.
Depending on your diagnosis, your chiropractor will choose which treatment method best suits your condition.
Specific Spinal manipulation: Sometimes called spinal adjusting, spinal manipulation is an active, hands-on care that returns motion to the spine. With a return of normal spinal mechanics, muscles relax and pain is resolved. In specific spinal manipulation, the chiropractor identifies the joints that are restricted or show abnormal motion. He or she then returns motion to the joint with a gentle thrusting technique.
Flexion Distraction technique: This is a gentle, non-thrusting type of spinal manipulation. This treatment is still hands-on, utilising a specialised table to assist the chiropractor. It’s especially useful in treating bulging discs and ruptured (herniated) discs.
Instrument-assisted manipulation: This is another non-thrusting technique. Using a hand-held instrument, the chiropractor can apply force without thrusting into the spine. This is especially appropriate in older patients with degenerative joint syndrome and/or osteoporosis.
To treat your back pain, the chiropractor may also use various manual therapies. These are used to treat soft tissue (ligaments and muscles, for example) injuries. Some possible manual therapies are:
Trigger point therapy: The chiropractor identifies specific hypertonic (tight), painful points on a muscle. Then applies direct pressure (using the fingers) on these points to relieve the tension.
Dry Needling (western Acupuncture): Myofascial trigger point dry needling is a treatment to restore proper function to abnormally behaving muscles. These muscles become painful with nodules also called knots and tight bands of muscle that can be painful locally or send pain signals to other locations. The muscles, which contain these abnormal areas are “locked” and cannot function normally, which causes restriction of movement and chronic pain. This treatment allows the muscle contracture to release to its normal length and the circulation to improve.
Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques
Therapeutic massage: To reinforce the improved joint mechanics (return of normal spinal motion), your chiropractor will prescribe therapeutic exercises.