The cervical portion of the spine consists of the 7 vertebrae that run from the base of your head to the shoulders – in other words, your neck. The cervical spine supports the entire weight of the head and is flexible enough to allow the head to move in almost any direction. Because of the high demands placed on the neck biologically, the cervical spine is very susceptible to injury.
Neck pain caused by an injury to the cervical spine can be very painful, and even debilitating. Patients who experience pain due to spinal injuries like herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, or osteoarthritis frequently turn to chiropractic care as part of a conservative treatment plan.
Cervical Spine Chiropractic Techniques
The methods a chiropractor will use to diagnose and treat a problem within the cervical spine will depend on the symptoms and the individual patient. Since every patient is different, there is no one-size-fits-all plan that can be used in all cases. However, there are some steps that will be generally repeated for every patient:
- An initial consultation, in which the chiropractor will obtain a complete medical history, a thorough description of the current pain and symptoms, and does an examination. Symptoms that the chiropractor will be especially concerned with include stiffness, soreness, tingling sensations, and pain, numbness, and tingling that radiate down the arms or back.
- Diagnosis of the problem, based on the information obtained in the initial consultation, as well as any test (x-rays, MRI, etc.) ordered to confirm suspected underlying issues.
- Devising and execution of a treatment plan tailored to the individual patient’s needs based on the diagnosis.
Depending on the diagnosis, the chiropractor may use hot or cold therapy, ultrasound, traction, or gentle, low-force adjustments (spinal manipulation) to try to relieve the pain from the condition. Some benefits that have been observed include increased blood flow, range of motion, and temporary, yet often immediate, pain relief.
Concerns with Cervical Spine Manipulation
Chiropractic has been controversial ever since it was invented in the 1890s. Some medical professionals believe that chiropractic is not based on solid science. More troublingly, recent studies suggest that some cervical spinal manipulation techniques may carry the risk of stroke. This is especially a concern in procedures that manipulate the upper cervical vertebrae. Stroke as a result of cervical manipulation is extremely rare, but should absolutely be considered when deciding on whether or not to pursue chiropractic treatment options.
If you have back or neck pain as a result of herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or other conditions in your cervical spine, and conservative treatments do not give you relief, contact Laser Spine Institute for more information on how our effective outpatient procedures can help you rediscover your life without back or neck pain.