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Programs and services : Chiropractic : Neck pain

Sanford Health Chiropractic


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Why is neck pain so common?

Dr. Eric Seamands
Eric Seamands, DC
Three quarters of Americans seek medical care for relief from neck pain at some point in their lives. The neck, which contains seven small vertebrae and is part of the cervical spine, supports the full weight of the head, which averages about 12 pounds. The cervical spine can move the head with great flexibility in almost every direction; however, this flexibility also makes the neck more susceptible to injury and pain. Extended sitting, repetitive movements, accidents, poor posture, improper lifting mechanics and normal aging are among factors that contribute to biomechanical neck problems.

What causes neck pain?

Injury, accidents and normal aging are common contributors to chronic neck pain. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash, a sudden forced movement of the head or neck in any direction with a resulting rebound that injures supporting neck and head tissues. With aging, degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease can directly affect the spine.

Neck symptoms may include numbness, reduced joint motion and pain that can range from tingling to acute or chronic pain that affects the neck, shoulder and/or arm. Chronic neck pain can often be attributed to poor posture. This compromised posture, along with factors such as obesity and weak abdominal muscles, disrupts spinal balance by forcing the neck to bend forward to compensate.

What does a chiropractor treat neck pain?

A doctor of chiropractic will gather details about the history of the problem and then perform physical and neurological examinations to determine the source and extent of your pain. Physical exams help assess your posture, range of motion and movements that contribute to the pain.

Neurological exams reveal information about your reflexes, muscle strength and how the pain spreads. The chiropractor may order diagnostic tests such as X-rays, a CT scan or an MRI. Treatment is personalized to your specific needs. It may include manipulation or manual neck adjustment, mobilization, massage and/or rehabilitative exercises. Your chiropractor also will recommend lifestyle changes and home exercises to improve your condition and prevent recurrence.

What is a neck adjustment?

A manual neck adjustment is performed to restore mobility and relieve pain. It also is known as a cervical manipulation. This safe and precise procedure relieves constriction in the neck joints and allows for relaxation of the adjoining muscles.

Typically, you will notice an almost immediate improvement in the ability to turn and move the head. Reduced pain and stiffness also are noticeable. The Annals of Internal Medicine recently published research results showing that chiropractic care and simple exercises done at home are better at reducing pain than taking medications like aspirin, ibuprofen or narcotics.

What if my neck pain is caused by a disease?

If your chiropractor diagnoses a condition such as a neck fracture or any indication that neck pain is related to disease, he or she will refer you to a medical physician.

Eric Seamands, DC, provides chiropractic care at Sanford Chiropractic in Bismarck and Sanford Health Occupational Medicine Clinic in Dickinson. Seamands is a graduate of North Dakota State University at Fargo and Northwestern Health Sciences University at Bloomington, Minn.

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