Most who suffer from neck pain tend to try and blame the condition on a single incident (poor pillow or bad night’s sleep, turning head too fast, etc.). The truth is most neck problems stem from years of accumulated micro trauma caused by lifestyle factors. Some neck pain does occur as the result of traumatic events (see whiplash), but the increase in sedentary lifestyle combined with spending hours hunched over books and computers which begins in childhood has a negative effect on the normal structural curve of the neck (called a lordosis). This curve should have a slight forward bend (similar to the shape of a banana) which allows for ideal weight bearing of the head (about the weight of a bowling ball) over the shoulders and thoracic spine. As this curve diminishes the weight of the head will tend to fall farther and farther forward putting increased stress on the spine and muscles. The levator scapula muscles which connect at the base of the skull and attach to the upper shoulder blades work harder to accommodate this extra burden leading to chronically tight and sore shoulders. The shifting posture increases the likelihood for subluxation in the neck which can lead to nerve pressure and herniated discs.
Chiropractic and Neck Pain
Research is mixed on the effectiveness of chiropractic care for neck pain. Nearly all studies show benefits, ie: some indicate chiropractic is superior to physical therapy, medication, or acupuncture, and others showing the benefit of chiropractic is equal to physical therapy or painkillers.
Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, 2000;23:307-11.
JMPT, 1999; 22:376-81.