Your Amazing Incredible Neck
Your neck is packed with all kinds of things: bones (vertebrae), nerves, blood vessels, glands, voice box (larynx), esophagus (food pipe), trachea (windpipe), discs, connective tissue, muscles, ligaments, tendons and other structures. Your amazing, incredible neck balances your heavy head as it turns, tilts, and twists without damaging its vital occupants.
Your Cervical Spine
Cervix, the Latin word for neck, means “a constricted area.” The uterus and urinary bladders also have a neck or cervix as does that part of your body that connects your head to your torso.
You have seven neck bones (also called cervical vertebrae) and they are numbered C-1 to C-7 from top to bottom. Your top cervical vertebrae, C-1, has a special name-the atlas- because, like Atlas in Greek mythology, it balances a globe, your skull. The next one is C-2 and it also has a special name-the axis- because it permits your neck to move in many different directions.
All your vertebrae work together to balance your head and protect your spinal cord, an extension of your brain that lies in your neck. This protection is extremely important because a spinal cord injury can result in paralysis or death.
Your cervical spinal nerves lie in small openings between your vertebrae. These nerves can become irritated, inflamed, compressed or “pinched” if your structural system is even slightly distorted or out of its proper position. That can cause head, neck, face, shoulder, elbow, arm, wrist, hand and finger pain; numbness; pins and needles; increased sensitivity or other symptoms. The most common cause of nerve, blood vessel and spinal cord pressure is a condition chiropractors call a subluxation, where your vertebrae are slightly out of position and your nerves are irritated.(1)
Is Your Head On Straight?
Imagine you are carrying a bowling ball. But instead of carrying it closely at you side you hold it just a few inches from your body. You’d get tired very quickly! It’s the same with your head. If it’s just a tiny bit off center you will start to suffer from fatigue as well as stress and pain involving your neck, shoulders, lower back, discs, hips, arms, knees and feet.
Causes Of Subluxations
There are many ways we can get a subluxation: a difficult birth, a fall (even a far back as childhood), an accident, working in one position for a long period and emotional tension.
Whiplash injury is a common cause of neck subluxations. Whiplash and neck injury sufferers may complain of headaches; vision problems;(2) dizziness; ringing in the ears; decreased attention span; learning and memory impairments; emotional changes; nasal, tongue and throat problems.(3-5) Chiropractic care realigns the vertebrae and removes stress from the nerves. Many people suffering from neck problems, including whiplash, have found chiropractic to be a blessing.(6) As one major medical journal reports: “Whiplash injuries are common. Chiropractic is the only proven effective treatment in chronic cases.”(7)
The most serious neck injuries-fracture, dislocation or severe tissue damage-can be fatal if not given emergency medical care. Most other neck problems, although not life-threatening, can impair your health if not corrected.
Disc Damage & Osteoarthritis
If your spine is unhealthy, you may lose your normal neck curve and suffer from pain, nerve irritation and disc degeneration. Although many doctors tell their patients that this is due to age, disc degeneration can be found in young children while some older adults are relatively free of it. One of the most common causes of disc degeneration is years of uncorrected subluxations. Over time uncorrect5ed subluxation degeneration causes arthritic changes in the vertebrae such as lipping or spurring (bony growths), disc thinning and deterioration.
The Orthodox Medical Approach
The standard medical approach to neck pain is often painkillers, muscle relaxers and/or tranquilizers. If the pain doesn’t subside, cortisone or other injections may be administered. In some cases physical therapy, neck pillows, collars or traction may be prescribed. Interestingly enough, these constitute a tacit endorsement of the chiropractic approach of releasing pressure on the nerves, joints and opening through which the nerves travel.
Sometimes surgery is needed especially in serious trauma or severe disc herniation. In many cases, chiropractic techniques have saved people from neck or disc surgery.(8-9) There is even evidence that chiropractic care can reverse osteoarthritis-something previously considered impossible.(10)
Surgery should only be considered “as a last resort”. Severe torticollis (wry neck); Erb’s Palsy; vision problems; hearing problems. And ear, nose and throat infections have all responded to neck adjustments (even in infancy).(11-13)
The Role of the Chiropractor
Chiropractic care corrects a severe form of stress known as a subluxation. This restores proper movement to your structural system, permitting greater energy, information and nutrients to flow over your nerves and tissues and throughout your body.
When corrected, your entire body begins to rebalance. That is why, for example, people with lower back problems, after receiving a neck adjustment from their chiropractor, find, to their surprise, that their low back pain not only starts feeling better ( as well as many other problems) but they have more energy a well!
Just as a periodic dental checkup is necessary to keep your teeth healthy, a chiropractic checkup is necessary to ensure a nervous system that is free from nerve stress permitting you to experience greater healing and well-being. No matter what disease or condition you have, you can benefit from a healthy spine and structural system.
1. Tepper SJ. Pathophysiology, basic science, and clinical studies. Headache: the Journal of Head and Face Pain. 2004; 44(10):1063-1065.
2. Leboeuf-Yde C et al. Self-reproted non-musculoskeletal response to chiropractic intervention: a multination study. JMPT. 2005; 28: 294-302.
3. Di Stefano G. Radanov BP. Course of attention and memory after common whiplash. Acta Neurol Scand. 1995; 91: 346-352.
4. Elster EL. Eighty-one patients with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease undergoing upper cervical chiropractic care to correct vertebral subluxation: a retrospective analysis. JVSR. August 2, 2004; 1-9.
5. Otte A, Mueller J. Brain SPECT findings is late whiplash syndrome. Lancet. 1995; 345:1512-1513.
6. Giles LG, Muller R. Chronic spinal pain syndrome: a clinical pilot trial comparing acupuncture, a nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and spinal manipulation. JMPT. 1999;22(6):376-381.
7. Khan S. Cook J, Gargan M, Bannister G. A symptomatic classifaication of whiplash injury and the implications for treatment. J Orthopedic Medicine. 1999; 21 (1).
8. Eriksen K. Management of cervical disc herniation with upper cervical chiropractic care. JMPT. 1998;21(1).
9. Robinson GK. Reabsorption of a herniated cervical disc following chiropractic treatment utilitzing the atlas orthogonal technique: a case report. Chiro Research Journal. 1998; 5(1).
10. Ressel OJ. Disc regeneration reversibility is possible in spinal osteoarthritis. ICA Review. March/April 1989: 39-61.
11. Colin N. Congenital muscular torticollis: a review, case study and proposed protocol for chiropractic management. Topics in clinical Chiropractic. 1998; 5(3): 27-33.
12. Biedermann HJ.Kinematic imbalances due to suboccipital strain in newborns. Manual Medicine. 1992;6:151-156.
13. Koren T. Chiropractic. Science and Medicine. 1999;6(5):42-45
©2011 Koren Publications. All Rights Reserved.