Neck pain is a common complaint experienced by many people. It can range from a dull ache to excruciating pain. It can be localized to the neck, or it can radiate into the arms and hands (radiculopathy). It can impact blood flow to the brain and lead to headaches and migraines. At Chiropractic Arts Center of Austin, P.C., we are focused on getting to the cause of the problem so that we can help correct it, not merely mask the symptoms.
There are 7 vertebrae in the neck that make up the cervical spine. The most common cause of neck pain is subluxation (misalignment) of the cervical vertebrae. When the vertebrae are subluxated, they interfere with the proper functioning of the nervous system which can result in tension, soreness, pain, spasm, headaches, and migraines.
Subluxations involve joint dysfunction which can lead to premature arthritis and joint degeneration of the spine due to improper mechanics. The cause of subluxation can be trauma, injury, or impacts. It can also be microtrauma from poor posture and repetitive actions. We see many neck issues with people who bend forward over computers and phones. Many times, old injuries never fully resolved, allowing the neck to degenerate prematurely. We also see disc bulges, herniations, and degeneration which have occurred as a result of these long-standing subluxations.
The top two vertebrae of the cervical spine, the Atlas (C1) and Axis (C2) are the most critical area of the neck in terms of impact on your total body. This is because the brainstem is protected by these 2 vertebrae and alignment here is critical to the transmission of optimum nerve flow. The brainstem connects the brain to the spinal cord and is responsible for the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body. The brainstem also controls breathing, swallowing, heart rate, blood pressure, consciousness, and much more. The cervical spine contains vital blood vessels and nerves that supply the esophagus, larynx, trachea, and thyroid gland. This explains why the cervical spine is key to many aspects of a person’s health and well-being. Specific adjustments in the cervical spine can affect the entire body.