Neck pain treatment

Neck pain treatment asks what chiropractic has to offer and is there research backing?

Cervical spine manipulation, in chiropractic terms the so called adjustment, artfully done is not usually painful. Let's say candidly though that a really facet or disc condition is much more severe than a very sore back.

Cervical spine stabs can bring you to tears; literally.

The consultation always begins with a thorough history. Your chiropractor will ask you questions like,

  • Where does it hurt? and
  • When did it begin?
  • What makes it worse, and
  • does it run down your arm or give you headaches?

Seventy percent of the time, research shows, experienced doctors can make an a pretty shrewd diagnosis just from the history.

Neck pain is often caused by old injuries that caused subluxations  in your spine, often long forgotten. It has now been proved that these fixations slowly but surely lead to arthritis.

Chiropractic subluxations in the neck cause stiffness, pain and perhaps tingling in the arms and hands, long after the injury has been forgotten. Why? Because they starve the joints of vital nutrients.

Strawberries for an arthritic neck? Yes, ma'am!


Strawberries for arthritis.

Fish oil, freshly ground flaxseed, walnuts and pecans too are important for arthritis in the neck.

Before starting the chiropractic neck pain treatment your doctor will ask searching questions that may yield important clues.

So, scratch your head, dig deep, those little details can be very important. For example, if you get tingling or pain in the arm, do movements of your neck provoke the tingling? Which movement? Or is it constant? Which fingers? Do you get relief from the tingling in your arm by placing your arm on your head?

Alternatively, if raising your arm above your head, as in hanging the washing, increases the fatigue and tingling we usually think first of a Thoracic Outlet syndrome ...

Shoulder abduction relief sign.

Tingling in arms and hands

Tingling in arms and hands are a very common consequence of neglected old injury. Whilst I don't believe that chiropractic neck pain treatment is necessary for every niggle, just as it isn't for every cough, if you know you've had a significant injury, or it doesn't spontaneously resolve, it's best to consult someone sooner rather than later.

S/he  may well use this simple examination procedure to determine whether the pain in your arm is caused by a pinched nerve in the neck. Interestingly, mouse arm has now been shown to have an underlying neurogenic basis. Upper Limb Tension Test ...

Also important, though it occurs very rarely, has there been any change in your gait, the way you walk? Have you been stumbling, or walked unexpectedly into the doorframe? Tingling fingers?

Chiropractic coalface

Chiropractic coalface stories are known as anecdotes; they have no scientific value, remember. Yet they give a human side to chiropractic neck pain treatment.

Mr Jones entered the consulting room with a thick scarf around his neck, even though it was midsummer. His wife was close behind him. One look at his face, and his hand clutching his neck in support, left me in no doubt where the problem was. A very sore neck. To turn his head, he turned his whole body.

'When did it start, Mr Jones?'

'Yesterday,' he said in a whisper.

'Do you have any idea what happened?''

'I was fine when I woke up,' he said. 'As I sat up I felt a sharp stab in my neck.' He had a stricken look on his face.

To cut a long story short, as I move to exam him, tears of doubt immediately filled his eyes. He didn't want anybody anywhere near his neck, let alone someone whom he thought might cause him great pain.

Mrs Jones spoke for the first time. 'Jerry was at Israeli judo yesterday. Do you think that could have anything to do with it?'

Before starting the chiropractic neck pain treatment your doctor will ask searching questions that may yield important clues. So, scratch your head, dig deep, those little details can be very important. For example, if you get tingling or pain in the arm, do movements of your neck provoke the tingling? Which movement? Or is it constant? Do you get relief from the tingling in your arm by placing your arm on your head?

Are there any dangers associated with neck pain treatment, and how frequent are there serious side effects? Chiropractic Coalface stroke will answer some of these questions.

Neck pain treatment

Neck pain treatment may look horrific, but you'd be pleasantly surprised. Tweety didn't complain!

Tweety needs a chiropractic adjustment.


Neck pain treatment is always preceded by an examination which will be thorough as your doctor seeks to understand the exact nature of your condition.

It will usually start with a POSTURAL ANALYSIS. The underlying root cause of your neck pain may be a flat foot, a short leg, an imbalance in the pelvis or another seemingly unrelated problem.

RANGE OF MOTION tests of neck will follow. Which movements are restricted, which cause pain? In particular, do any movements of your neck immediately cause pain or tingling in your arm, or dizziness?

Then will follow ORTHOPAEDIC and NEUROLOGICAL tests. At the heart of chiropractic is the influence that these subluxations in your neck may have, causing not only neck pain, but influencing any of the many organs innervated by nerves that emerge from tiny openings called foramina in your neck. This following test for a frank pinched nerve you could do at home:

This will be followed by an examination of the MUSCLES in your neck and shoulders. Subluxations in your neck, as well as poor posture may cause muscular imbalances, and pain in the muscles themselves.

A MOTION PALPATION examination in the patient with neck pain is an extremely important part of chiropractic treatment. Knowing which bones in your neck to adjust, and how to adjust them, is a vital part of curing your headaches, neck pain, arm pain and in improving your general health.

While chiropractors do not make many claims about curing other 'medical' conditions, it is astonishing how many patients ask if their sinusitis, asthma, stomach pain could have been helped by the chiropractic treatment they have been receiving.

Thereafter your doctor may look for signs in the shoulder, arm, elbow and hand, as conditions such as frozen shoulder and carpal tunnel syndrome usually issue from a neck condition.

Finally, before starting your neck pain treatment, your chiropractor will do a general medical examination, checking your blood pressure, look for swollen lymph nodes, listen to your lungs, and perhaps even do a breast exam. It's always advisable to take a family member along for the first consultation. Because the nerves to the arm (the so called brachial plexus) travel close to the lungs and breast, these organs can also have an effect on your arm.


X-RAYS are not always taken before the neck pain treatment begins, but they frequently reveal important information that your doctor could not otherwise have guessed.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but because of the radiation, much as we would like to have X-rays of every neck, we only X-ray obviously difficult cases, and cases where the progress is not satisfactory.

Whiplash x-ray.


Sitting for long periods with poor posture causes inevitably neck pain. This lady, painted by famous Dutch painter Gerard ter Borch, has pain!

Neck pain whilst writing.

Looking at the neck from the side, it has a normal curve, called the 'cervical lordosis'. Injury and even poor posture can change this curve, causing either a straight neck, a forward bending neck (called a 'cervical kyphosis') and even increase the lordosis. Changes in this normal lordosis, in my experience, are always associated with pain.

Chiropractic neck pain treatment adjustments can sometimes make dramatic changes to this pattern, but poor posture will contribute to a relapse. Expect your chiropractor to ask searching questions about your computer station and your desk. Look to the bottom of this page for a good alternative.

Strange things happen at the chiropractic coalface; one of them is that every year at least one woman with unexplained infertility comes in for neck pain treatment have finds herself pregnant within a few months; we are unable to explain it scientifically but it certainly happens; quite regularly.

Neck pain treatment x-rays.


Data was collected directly from chiropractic neck pain treatment patients in a very large study after 28 807 neck pain treatments in order to find out whether there was worsening of symptoms, and what beneficial effect the treatment had. JMPT March 2008 abstract:

What did they find?

The presenting symptoms were “neck pain,” “shoulder, arm pain,” “reduced neck, shoulder, arm movement, stiffness,” “headache,” “upper, mid back pain.” If patients had one of these symptoms, 70% responded that they experienced immediate relief after chiropractic treatment. If four of these symptoms were present, then 95% stated that they had immediate relief.

With regard to immediate worsening, 4.4% stated that they felt worse.

There were no serious side effects after any of these neck pain treatment manipulations. Any worsening was of a very temporary nature.



Interesting research in Spine journal (Feb 2009) shows that one can exercise the neck during neck pain treatment by raising your arm to the side . Raising your right arm to the side, what we call abduction, to 90 degrees, with a 2kg weight in your hand, causes the cervical vertebrae (all of them) in healthy people to rotate to the left.

Interestingly, raising your right arm to 120 degrees causes a counter rotation, the lower cervical vertebrae to the left and the upper vertebrae to the right.

Clinically, what we are unsure of is: should you raise one arm, and thereafter the other? Or only one arm, if you have pain on the right say? (and which arm would have the most benefit?)

And if you have upper neck pain, is the counter rotation of raising the arm to 120 degrees (to the side remember), more beneficial, or counter-productive? We just aren’t sure.

Suggestion; so, be your own researcher.

  1. Raise the arm on the side of pain in your neck to 90 degrees to the side, repeatedly for three days without a weight, and then for three days with a bottle of water, say, in your hand. Hold for 8 seconds. Why eight? Because that’s been shown to be most beneficial for pnf exercises.
  2. Repeat with the arm opposite the side of pain for three days. Is one definitely more beneficial than the other? Make notes.
  3. Then do the exercise first to 120 degrees on the side of pain, that we know produces counter rotation, and then opposite to the location of discomfort for three days; make more notes.

Learn to be your own researcher. Test what works best for your body. There are so many unknowns still in health care. It could be that if you have a short right leg, you should raise the right arm, but maybe the left. We just don’t know. Get to know your own self.

We would love some feedback. What did you find? What should the chiropractic scientists be researching?

In particular do any of these exercises increase or relieve the pain and tingling in the arms and hands?

Neanderthal man neck pain exercise.

Is Chiropractic treatment painful?

Is Chiropractic treatment painful? It's always a concern for the person with a very severe stiff neck. Amazingly, there is virtually always a position in which the neck pain treatment can be done to free the offending lock that is not particularly painful, though it's sometimes an art to find it.

Research proves that neck pain treatment is usually very successful with chiropractic. Seventy percent of patients report immediate improvement; see more below. The adjustment is not usually painful, even in the patient with a very acute spine. It should be acknowledged that there are exceptions, but these will be few and far between.

Mostly there will be some loosening of the neck, mobilisation and stretching, in preparation for the manipulations. Your doctor may do some massage, physiotherapeutic treatments such as dry needling, ultrasound and various electrical modalities.

The chiropractic adjustment itself may be a little frightening the first time you experience it.

Research has shown that manipulation done by an experienced chiropractor is really very safe. Far less dangeroujs than the anti inflammatories that are prescribed without due concern; they cause thousands of deaths from bleeding ulcers every year; literally, no exaggeration.

However, like all treatments, there is an element of risk with chiropractic neck pain adjustments  too. Some pain may be experienced after the treatment, but this is usually of a short lived nature. An ice pack placed in a facecloth on the complaining parts will bring relief.

Are there any dangers associated with Chiropractic neck pain treatment? Yes, there are, but they are extremely few and far between and in comparison with the dangers associated with anti inflammatory drugs the chief danger associated with manipulation, viz Stroke Chiropractic is extremely rare at around one per several million adjustments.

How many adjustments?

How many adjustments is a question you should ask up front. Alas there are some chiropractors who will try to sell you a package of neck pain treatment that will mean having to mortgage your home!

It must be acknowledged that this is very dependent on your problem. Some neck pain treatment conditions respond immediately, some take months of treatment.

Broadly the neck pain treatment will fall into three parts, if the condition has been present for more than six months:

1) The TREATMENT PHASE. In this phase your doctor will be dealing with the problem, reducing your pain and stiffness by adjusting the subluxated vertebrae. This will also reduce any nerve irritation or pressure that may be present.

2) The REHABILITATION PHASE, sometimes called the STABILISATION PHASE. During this phase many exercises will be given. The intention is to strengthen your neck, to prevent a relapse, and so that you won't need to come for treatment several times a week for months and months.

3) The MAINTENANCE PHASE. It is the conviction of chiropractors that an occasional, regular treatment has much benefit in preventing relapse. In this regard you will be encouraged to have an adjustment occasionally. How occasionally? That depends on your problem. Perhaps once a month, perhaps once in six months. On average perhaps every two or three months. Maintenance care is often part of the solution to the chronic neck pain sufferer; is usually incurably and like diabetes must be managed and cared for rather than cured.

A really painful neck is far more painful than a sore back

Nevertheless, neck pain treatment is not usually particularly painful.


can be a very beneficial part of back pain treatment. Much of neck pain is simply too many hours spent at the wheel of the car, or stuck in front of a computer. An occasional but regular massage can do wonders for overworked muscles.

Home traction

Home traction enables you to help yourself. Certainly it's an adjunct to neck pain treatment, just as massage is, that you could consider.

Medical research suggests that cervical traction (on its own) has little benefit for neck pain, particularly if there is nerve entrapment.

However, in conjunction with Chiropractic Help, my experience is that traction is a useful adjunct. However, I have no research to support my belief. Alas, still so many unresearched things in Chiropractic...

Either make this HOME TRACTION UNIT ... or purchase a commercially available unit. I prefer those done lying on your back rather than sitting...

Think too of correctly placed bedside lights just above and behind your head, not on the dressing table.

Cervical traction unit.

Useful Links

Cervical rib or first thoracic rib subluxation?

The nerve and blood supply to the arm pass through a narrow passage called the inter scalene triangle ... a spasm of the scalene muscles, a first thoracic rib subluxation and very rarely large cervical ribs may interfere with these vital structure supplying the arm with blood and nerve supply. The condition is called a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome ...

Interscalene triangle with a cervical rib.

Arm pain 

In short, these structures in the lower neck are the common underlying causes of the many arm pain syndromes confronting your chiropractor on a daily basis. The rotator cuff syndromes, frozen shoulders, carpal tunnel syndromes and tingling in the arms and hands. Arm pain ...


Don't underestimate the value of proper nutrition if you have a chronic problem. Enjoying anti inflammatory foods daily in the diet is an essential adjunct to neck pain treatment.

It's really not that difficult to make sure you have a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil daily on a green salad, increasing the omega-3 and enjoying dishes such as this chicken broccoli recipe regularly.

Broccoli, along with kale, is the queen of the table, both as an anti inflammatory and in the prevention of cancer; not unimportant I think you'll agree! Plus it tastes damn good.


Another approach to the whole question of pain in the face, jaw, head and neck. Could your jaw joint be involved? HEAD NECK PAIN ...

Contact me directly right here.

I receive many questions at Chiropractic Help. It might be help for a spinal condition, but it could also be about a failed Carpal Tunnel operation, or some such thing.

I will do that by answering your questions personally, but it will be converted to a Web Page so others can benefit from your questions. Omit your surname if you like.

However, do understand that, in the main, I'm going to be directing you (should it be pertinent) to a Chiropractor in your neck of the woods. I'll respond to all reasonable inquiries, but please be specific, and give some details: which fingers, what increases the pain, and relieves it, injuries, do x-rays show anything, does placing your arm on your head relieve or increase tingling in the arm... without these sort of details, I'm unable to give a sensible answer.

There is no charge for this service, however if you find my answer useful, you might like to consider purchasing my latest book, Stones in my Clog. Gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a Chiropractor. It's only $2.99. Use the site search function.

Pose Me A Question! Pretty please, in decent grammar and spelling.

I will never give or sell your e-mail address to anyone.

PS. If you find my answer instructive, would you please ask a friend to rate the page. Many thanks.

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