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Living Pain-Free: Chiropractic Care for Neck and Shoulder Pain

By Genevieve Cunningham

Neck and Shoulder Pain

Neck and shoulder pain are incredibly common. Just think about the number of times you’ve woken in the morning to a crick in the neck, or consider the stiffness you may have felt when throwing a ball or lifting something heavy. Neck and shoulder pain are so common, we often ignore the discomfort altogether. Although it may feel natural to simply ignore the pain, that’s not the best response, especially when effective help is out there, perhaps, literally, right around the corner.

Where do we go and what do we do to find relief in the pursuit of a pain-free life? We start by understanding the problem from the very beginning.

What Are the Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain?

The neck and shoulder are closely connected in both location and general function, but the causes of pain in each region can vary widely. Why? Because they each play very different roles within the body. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, neck pain is often caused by:

  • Arthritis
  • Disc degeneration
  • Strains and injuries
  • Inflammation
  • Lifestyle

Many of the causes of neck pain are out of our control. They’re due to the natural aging process or the natural wear and tear of life. However, lifestyle choices are definitely within our control. With intention and practice, we may be able to change our habits and create lasting changes in the health of our neck.

Our Modern World and the Dreaded Tech Neck

One of the most common lifestyle choices that can contribute to neck pain is our constant use of technology. We love the modern world and all of its conveniences. In fact, we’re often found bent over a computer, phone, tablet, or some kind of electronic device. Over time, this constant bent state stresses the spine, which then causes chronic pain. In some instances, the spine remains in this bent state even when we’re not using our phones or devices; we have what seems to be a permanent hunch in the neck. Correcting this issue is important because it may relieve pain, improve your health, and even contribute to a more aesthetically pleasing profile.

The Many Causes of Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain isn’t as widely discussed as neck pain, but it can cause just as much discomfort and be a huge burden in daily life. You may not realize how much the shoulders are engaged until pain keeps you from using them. When you lose range of motion in the shoulder, daily life becomes much more difficult. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a product of Harvard Medical School, some of the most common causes of shoulder pain include:

  • Arthritis
  • Herniated disc
  • Connective tissue and soft tissue injuries -- including injuries of the rotator cuff
  • Inflammation
  • Lifestyle

Whether the pain stems from the neck or the shoulder, it can be debilitating. To end the pain and feel strong in our bodies, we must find the source of the pain and get proper care right away.

Don’t Be a Slouch: Poor Posture’s Role in Shoulder Pain

Excessive technology use can lead to chronic neck pain, but other lifestyle choices may lead to chronic shoulder pain. Though we don’t really imagine it to be a choice, our posture -- for most people -- is something that we subconsciously choose every day. When our posture is poor, it can contribute heavily to discomfort. Slouching and rounding the shoulders may cause a pulling sensation in the upper body. This pulling can lead to impingement and pinching of the tendons in the shoulder. Over time, inflammation sets in, which contributes even further to the pain. The solution to this problem is simple, but certainly not easy. We have to pay attention to posture and correct seemingly harmless positions such as slouching and hunching at every possible opportunity.

Perfecting Poor Posture: Can Chiropractors Help?

If you struggle with poor posture, you’re already aware of the difficulties that come with creating lasting change. Your body has muscle memory -- it literally remembers the poor posture and maintains it -- and this can be really tough to break. Fortunately, this is not a problem you have to attack all on your own.

Chiropractic treatment -- generally in the form of spinal manipulation -- may be a useful and effective tool for improving posture. As the spine is adjusted by a chiropractor -- a doctor of chiropractic -- each vertebrae is gently encouraged into proper alignment and begins to move more freely. This may reduce symptoms while encouraging good posture. Of course, each treatment plan will be highly personal and reflective of individual needs, but ongoing chiropractic spinal adjustments, along with posture-specific stretches and exercises, may help correct poor posture and reduce any pain that comes with it.

Chiropractic Care for Head and Neck Pain: No More Discomfort

A doctor of chiropractic’s ability to heal -- or encourage healing of -- the spine, and to ease us into better posture, is certainly something we need to remember as we age, but it's not the only issue a chiropractor treats.

When head, neck, and shoulder pain are plaguing you, visit a chiropractor to see if you are a candidate for chiropractic and could benefit from chiropractic. The chiropractor may first perform a physical and may even order diagnostic imaging to rule out serious injuries. Finding the exact source of the pain allows a chiropractor to make a plan called a treatment plan, which outlines your path to relief.

What might the plan look like? According to the American Chiropractic Association, neck manipulations -- also called neck adjustments or cervical manipulations -- can reduce pain in the head and neck, improve range of motion, and even increase movement in nearby muscle groups such as the shoulders. The pressure applied will be precise, and the program built by the chiropractor may include other methods to push you toward your best health.

What Neck and Shoulder Conditions Are Best Treated With Chiropractic Care?

Even if you fully believe that chiropractic care can work, it’s easy to dismiss your own problems. “It might help those people,” you think, “but not me.” Luckily, chiropractic care has been shown to treat a wide variety of conditions of the neck and shoulder, and help a wide variety of people regardless of age, height, weight, or condition. Some of the most commonly treated conditions include:

  • Acute neck pain - Generally caused by a minor injury or prolonged awkward positioning
  • Osteoarthritis - A degenerative condition affecting the joints
  • Disc injuries - Ones that do not require surgery
  • Spinal stenosis - A narrowing of nerve passageways in the vertebrae of the spine
  • Frozen shoulder - A thickening and tightening of the shoulder capsule
  • Rotator cuff injuries - Strains affecting the tendons and muscles in the shoulder
  • Postural stress - Pain caused by ongoing poor posture and pressure on the musculoskeletal system

Though this list is a good representation of various conditions treated by chiropractors, it’s not extensive. If neck or shoulder pain is a problem, consider an evaluation and chiropractic adjustment at The Joint Chiropractic, where walk-in visits and affordable pricing are the norm. Neck and shoulder pain are common, but not inevitable nor a life sentence. Getting proper care may lead you to a life of health, wellness, and pain-free living.

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