A neck impingement can be debilitating, leading a person to use other muscles to compensate for the pain. Chiropractic care can resolve the impingement and help the patient stay in balance.
Neck Impingement Causes
Neck impingement (cervical radiculopathy) is a pinched nerve in the neck. When a nerve, located between vertebrae in the neck, becomes injured, it can cause weakness, numbness, and pain. The pain may not stay in the neck – it can also travel down the arm and affect the wrist and fingers. The nerve has too much pressure on it due to compression, injury, spinal stenosis, herniated disk, or a degenerative disk disease. The pain can be minor, or it can feel like a burning sensation with spasms. Every time the patient moves the neck, the pain can travel.1
Home remedies can help resolve pain related to a mild neck impingement. People don’t have to turn to the medicine cabinet for only temporary relief. A hot water bottle or ice pack can work very well. Self-massage, or massage help from someone else, can relieve the affected area. There are neck exercises that can also loosen the neck muscles. Neck rolls are particularly helpful. If the pain is too great, NSAID medications can be a last resort at home. However, if the pain persists for more than a few days, or gets worse, it is time to seek professional help.2 Chiropractors are specially trained in dealing with pinched nerves, and they can help to restore alignment and health in the patient.
Instead of using medications to mask the pain, chiropractors work at fixing the underlying cause of the problem. Some of the early recommended treatment may include rest. In severe cases, a patient may need to wear a soft neck collar. Chiropractors can then help the patient learn useful exercises. When the issue is resolved, the patient can prevent some future neck impingement issues by using these exercises on a regular basis. Other kinds of therapy that may be employed in the chiropractic office include heat and cold therapy and electrical stimulation.3 Subluxations (misalignments) can be resolved with chiropractic manipulations. This will allow the spine and neck to move freely, “reducing muscle spasms, inflammation, and nerve irritation”. A chiropractor can also help the patient know whether or not the injury needs heat or ice. Ice controls inflammation and pain, and it can help in the healing process, especially “when radicular arm pain accompanies severe neck pain”. If the pain is more of a “sharp, cramping shoulder and back pain”, it will likely respond more to heat. In other words, according to Dr. Nicolas Campos, “ice will feel good on inflammation, and heat will feel good on muscle spasms”. Preventative care is also important. Strengthening the shoulders and rotator cuff muscles will help to provide better support to the neck. Patients can also learn about good posture and ergonomic positioning (including choosing the right pillows and mattress).4
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