Neck, shoulder and arm pain
Ailments of the neck, shoulders and arms may be the result of a knock, an accident, pulling a muscle, carrying too much weight or from doing exercise. However, often pains emanating from these parts of the body in fact originate in the neck.
The cervical vertebrae - often the source pain
The cervical vertebrae are very vulnerable because this is the most fragile area of the spinal column. The column must be strong and flexible so that it can support the head, which weighs between 4 and 8 kilos (the same as a bowling ball), while at the same time allowing the rotation of the head. All of the nerves that go to the shoulders, arms and hands pass through the cervical vertebrae, which means that any misalignment in the cervical vertebrae area can cause pain and immobility in those particular parts of the body.
There are many things that can put pressure on the cervical vertebrae: poor posture while sleeping, bad seating positions at work (head bent forward when at the computer, phone held between ear and shoulder), awkward movements (lifting a weight or playing sports), traffic accidents, etc.
Consequently, many people come to lose the natural curve of the neck, which results in nerve irritation, pain in the neck, shoulder or arm, as well as osteoarthritis in the neck area.
The neck can often hurt because your muscles are overworked trying to regain normal cervical curve. So, we end up with painful muscle spasms that can also cause headaches.
Massage only masks the symptoms, relieving them temporarily.
However, when the chiropractor resets the vertebrae in their correct position, both the pain and the root of the problem are being treated.
There are several problems caused by inflammation of the joint (such as tendinitis, capsulitis, frozen shoulder, etc.). Before resorting to surgery or injections, you should consult a chiropractor, since in most cases what you are feeling is a referred pain, which can originate a nerve irritation in the cervical area.
The most dreaded condition, known as cervicobrachialgia, is a stabbing pain that often starts as a tingling, or a sensation of heat and cold.
It usually comes from a herniated or slipped disc in the area of the cervical vertebrae. As in the case of any other slipped disc or herniation, before operating, you should consult with a chiropractor, as this type of condition responds well to chiropractic treatment.
The most famous elbow pain is known as tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis, which is an inflammation of the tendons in the elbow area.
However, unless you are an accomplished tennis player, tennis elbow is, in fact, very rare! In most cases, it is a problem of nerve compression at the cervical vertebral level.
Frequently, when people feel numbness in the wrist, they think it is carpal tunnel syndrome. They often choose to undergo surgery for this condition when in reality, it is the beginning of a cervicobrachialgia (see arm pain), caused by a cervical vertebral problem. An operation is ill-advised in such cases, because the surgical procedure involves the risk of causing fibrosis, which can, ironically, cause carpal tunnel syndrome. So, before undergoing any operation, you should have your cervical vertebrae checked out!
Your chiropractor will examine you and carry out diagnostic tests to determine exactly what is causing your pain.
If, as in most cases, it is the cervical vertebrae, the chiropractor will perform precise and painless adjustments in order to return the cervical spine to its normal position. This resolves the problem of the nerve irritation causing the pain.
Of course, if the source of the problem is elsewhere, the chiropractor will work directly on the joint in question to relieve the pain.
In the end, there will always be the option to undergo surgery, and if you have to resort to this, your chiropractor will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialist.
An examination using diagnostic procedures will determine the exact cause of the pain.
Ariens GA, Bongers PM, Douwes M, et al. Are neck flexion, neck rotation, and sitting at work risk factors for neck pain? Results of a prospective cohort study. Occupational Environments Medicine (England), 2001, 58 (3): 200-7
Ben Eliyahu DJ. Efficacy of chiropractic manipulation of treatment of cervical disc herniation. Proceedings of the 1991 FCER Conference/ICSM.
Caillet, Rene, M.D., Neck and Arm Pain, 3rd edition,F.A. Davis Co., 1991; 87-123
Conroy DE, Hayes KW. The effect of joint mobilization as a component of comprehensive treatment for primary shoulder impingement syndrome. Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Jul. 1998; vol. 28, no. 1, pp3-14.
Gunzburg,R., M.D., The Degenerative Cervical Spine. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2001.
Polkinghorn BS. Chiropractic treatment of frozen shoulder syndrome (adhesive capsulitis) utilizing mechanical force, manually assisted short lever adjusting procedures. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Feb. 1995; vol. 18, no. 2, pp105-15.
Siciliano MA, Bernard TA. Reduction of a confirmed C5/6 disc herniation. Journal of Chiropractic Res. and Clinical. Invest., 8(1):17, 1991
Winters JC, Sobel JS, Groenier KH, et al. Comparison of physiotherapy, manipulation, and corticosteroid injection for treating shoulder complaints in general practice: Randomized, single blind study. British Medical Journal, May 3, 1997; vol. 314, pp1320-25.