A patient named Tim was referred to my chiropractic practice of 38 years by a coworker for the chronic neck pain he was experiencing. Tim had been experiencing strong neck discomfort for over six years. His pain was constant and was worsened considerably when he spent long hours in front of his computer and with stressful situations. This article will discuss how Tim was helped by chiropractic care and introduce some relevant research as to how chiropractic care can help bring pain relief for chronic neck pain.
Tim’s case was similar to many I’ve seen in my over three-plus decades of chiropractic practice. Like many of us, Tim’s years involved sitting at a desk through elementary and high school, then in college and at his desk/computer occupation. Tim said after five years at his job his neck and upper back muscles felt as hard as rocks. His pain caused him to be fatigued. His tiredness was further worsened because his neck discomfort affected getting a good night’s sleep.
Perhaps most distressing to Tim was that his neck pain condition was interfering with his ability to perform in a local amateur musical theater group that he belonged to. His performances required him to sing and dance as a member of the chorus. He said that rehearsals and shows, although stressful, were normally very invigorating and enjoyable for him. However, as his neck pain became worse the stress of the shows exacerbated his neck pain and caused him to get tension headaches.
Before visiting my office, Tim had resorted to taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications on a daily basis. After experiencing intense stomach pains – a side effect of the medication – he made the decision to seek chiropractic care to correct the cause of the problem. When I initially examined Tim, I found that he had misalignments of the neck spinal bones. This alignment problem caused pinching of the nerves and irritated the joints of his spine. As a reaction the muscles of his neck, shoulders and upper back went into spasm. All these factors were causing his pain.
We settled on a multi-faceted course of chiropractic care to correct his problem. To correct the spinal misalignments we used safe, gentle chiropractic spinal adjustments. Electrical muscle stimulation and pressure point therapy helped to relieve his muscle spasms. Cold pack applications, which he applied at home to his neck, quickly reduced swelling and inflammation. As Tim improved, he was given stretching and strengthening exercises to help his posture. We also talked about how Tim could improve the ergonomic situation of his workspace.
After a few weeks of care Tim found the neck pain relief he was seeking. He no longer having pain at work or while sleeping. He was also able to perform normally with his theater group.
It’s been five years since I initially treated Tim. He continues to do well and comes in occasionally for what we call a “tune-up” chiropractic adjustment if he feels some stress in his neck.
There have been several research studies comparing the use of medications versus chiropractic care for chronic neck pain. All the studies show that medication only works while the patient is taking it. Since chiropractic care corrects the problem, patients maintain their improvement and gain pain relief for chronic neck problems.
Tim’s only complaint is that he wished he had tried chiropractic care sooner. I agreed with him and told him that, unfortunately, I had heard that statement many times before!