The human neck is often an undervalued part of the body. Many people fail to consider all of the functions that the neck supports. In addition to supporting the full weight of the human head, the neck also allows mobility of the head, and acts to absorb shock from common daily activities. The neck also houses the spinal cord, which is the information superhighway that communicates sensory data from the body to the brain. A number of different structural components lie within the neck, including vertebrae, tendons, muscles and soft tissue discs that cushion the cervical vertebrae. Neck pain can result from a sudden traumatic injury, or could be the result of chronic problems with posture or other sources of strain.
As with all types of chiropractic care, diagnosis plays an important role in determining a course of treatment. The techniques used to address neck pain differ from those that are used in other areas of the body, such as the back or larger joints. A gentler approach is usually preferred, and one of the most common options is known as cervical mobilization. The chiropractor uses his or her hands gently move the cervical vertebrae in a side to side and figure 8 motion. That action serves to stretch the cervical spine, and can also be instrumental in reducing tension in surrounding muscles.
Cervical manual traction is a chiropractic technique used to address neck pain. After determining the source of neck pain, the chiropractor uses gentle force to slowly exert pressure on the neck, pulling and stretching the vertebrae that make up the cervical spine. This pulling motion varies between forward and backward extension. The patient may be asked to lie on his or her back, or could be asked to sit in an upright position during treatment. Many practitioners use a combination of cervical manual traction and cervical mobilization to help patients find relief from neck pain.