By Dr. Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP
Have you ever experienced neck pain? Does it travel down your arms? Do you struggle turning your head? Does your neck pain cause you headaches? Not all neck pain is the same! There are many reasons for someone to experience neck pain: sedentary lifestyle, computer use, excessive phone use and of course traumatic injuries! Most commonly, neck pain can be attributed to either a mechanical issue (joint fixation) or an anatomical issue (disc). Let's see how!
5 Common Reasons for neck pain
I recently saw an Instagram reel where the patient says "hey Doc, I hurt my neck" and the doctor says "how did you hurt it?" and the patient says "honestly I have no idea"… Cut to images of the patient on his phone for 8+ hours a day with his head looking down at his phone which is either in his lap, or in his hands. The majority of neck pain issues that we see in our practice do not happen because of traumatic injury, they occur because of repetitively stressing the neck in a weak or unsupportive posture. Here are the top five causes of neck pain in our practice:
Poor posture - mainly while utilizing computers, phones and devices
Muscle strains - at the gym or doing daily household activities
Degeneration - the age of our muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints affects our ability to adapt to physical demands
Disc bulge or herniation - weakened through trauma or time, disc bulges are an anatomical reason for neck pain and particularly for radiating pain into the arms or hands
Spinal joint fixation - the most common reason for neck pain and the easiest to fix
By the way - poor posture habits are the reason that all of these other factors lead to neck pain! If you neck is not strong and resilient in a stacked and supportive posture, it will not be able to withstand a minor fender bender, a light clean and jerk or your dog chasing a squirrel while you hold the leash.
5 Ways to Fix It
See your chiropractor - we are the leading experts in neck pain!
Get a massage - most of the time mechanical neck pain can benefit from chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy
Do neck exercises - isometric neck exercises are our favorites. Seated in your car, while at a red light, press your head into your headrest and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat as long as the light is red. Easy. For more, ask us at your next appointment.
Improve posture - while there is no such thing as perfect posture, there certainly are unfavorable positions to spend a long period of time in. Try to keep your head stacked over your tailbone... check in right now - is your head in front of your tailbone? Fix it.
Workplace ergonomics - we recommend a seat that can recline a bit with a head rest. Keeping your head supported while you work is a good habit to be in.
One of my favorite analogies for a spinal joint fixation is that of a bicycle and a chain. The bicycle and the chain may both be brand new, and there may be nothing wrong with either of them, but if the chain is not correctly installed on the bicycle it won't work properly. The rider of the bike may notice some clicking or some slipping and it might get the job done but it won't be comfortable or efficient and eventually there may be some damage to the chain. Now think of this in regards to your own spine. Do you ever notice any clicking, instability or pain? This is not normal. But most of the time it doesn't mean that there's something broken or damaged to the parts of your spine (ligaments, tendons, muscles, joints, discs). It just means that they are not functioning together properly. A diagnosis we call a joint fixation. These are easily and quickly addressed by chiropractic adjustments.
Lisa Goodman, DC, CCSP, CACCP founded Washington Park Chiropractic in 2006 in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Goodman is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) and Certified Prenatal and Pediatric Chiropractor (CACCP). She is TPI-L1 certified through the Titleist Performance Institute. She is also a CrossFit Level 1 and CrossFit Kids Certified Trainer. Dr. Goodman incorporates sports chiropractic techniques with prenatal and pediatric patients. She is a regular speaker at national events including Parker Seminars. She is part of the USGA Performance and Recovery Team. She is a member of the ACA Pediatrics Council and the ACA Sports Council. Areas of special interest include golf biomechanics, youth athletes, ankle and wrist injuries, instrument assisted soft tissue techniques. Stay connected with Dr. Goodman on Instagram @washparkchiro or @drlisagoodman
Sharrak S, Al Khalili Y. Cervical Disc Herniation. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing, Treasure Island (FL); 2023. PMID: 31536225.