The neck consists of 7 bones, which are called vertebrae and they are numbered from C1 to C7. The ‘C’ comes from the anatomical word for neck, known as the cervical spine. The neck performs many movements in multiple directions, including forward bending, backward bending, rotating to both sides and bending the head to the sides, to bring the ear towards the shoulder. On top of your neck rests your skull. The skull sits on top of the cervical spine. In an adult, the weight of the skull can weigh from 4.5 – 5kg.
The cervical spine and discs are there to protect the spinal cord and spinal nerves, just as the skull is there to protect the brain. The cervical spine consists of 7 bones (vertebrae), stacked on top of each other and 26 muscles. These muscles attach to the various bones of the skull, cervical spine, thoracic spine (middle back) and shoulders. Due to the various points of attachment, neck pain can also be felt through the top of the shoulders and the upper back.
Common causes of neck pain:
Postural distortion: If the spine is not aligned properly, this can cause symptoms of neck pain. As the spine is required to provide movement, it is important that all vertebrae are moving properly to allow the body to function correctly.
Spinal degeneration: A poor functioning spinal column can cause wear and tear over a period of years that can produce neck pain. This degeneration can also occur over a smaller period of time if trauma to the region has occurred.
Whiplash: This occurs when the head moves backwards and then forwards very quickly. This commonly occurs in car accidents whether from a small or high-speed impact. It can also occur from other neck traumas causing this type of movement. Symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, a decrease in the amount of movement of the neck and tightness through the muscles. General tenderness to touch and headaches are also common findings with whiplash-type injuries.
Medical conditions: Although rare, causes of neck pain can also be of a serious nature such as tumours, infections or fractures.
Can chiropractic help with neck pain?
Evidence is available that shows chiropractic care for neck pain produces positive results. Depending on the chronicity, severity and type of injury that is causing the neck pain, patients can see results within days to weeks with chiropractic care.
Hurwitz, E.L., et al., Treatment of neck pain: noninvasive interventions: results of the Bone and Joint Decade 2000–2010 Task
Force on Neck Pain and Its Associated Disorders. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2009. 32(2 Suppl): p. S141–S175. Gross, A.R., etal., Manipulation and mobilisation for mechanical neck disorders. Cochrane Database Syst Rev,2004.(1):p.