Can a Chiropractor help with neck pain?

Neck pain is a very com­mon prob­lem affect­ing up to 70% of the adult pop­u­la­tion at some point in life. Though there are spe­cific causes of neck pain such as aris­ing from a sports injury, a car acci­dent or “sleep­ing crooked,” the vast major­ity of the time, no direct cause can be iden­ti­fied and thus the term non­spe­cific is applied. There are many symp­toms asso­ci­ated with patients com­plain­ing of neck pain and many of these symp­toms can be con­fused with other con­di­tions. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what neck related symp­toms are most likely to respond to chi­ro­prac­tic manip­u­la­tion before the treat­ment has started? This issue has been inves­ti­gated with very favor­able results!
The abil­ity to pre­dict a favor­able response to treat­ment has been termed, “clin­i­cal pre­dic­tion rules” which in gen­eral, are usu­ally made up of com­bi­na­tions of things the patient says and find­ings from exams. In a large study, data from about 20,000 patients receiv­ing about 29,000 treat­ments, was col­lected and ana­lyzed to find out what com­plaints responded well to chi­ro­prac­tic treat­ment. The results showed that the pres­ence of any 4 of these 7 pre­sent­ing com­plaints pre­dicted an imme­di­ate improve­ment in 70–95% of the patients: 1. Neck pain; 2. Shoul­der, arm pain; 3. Reduced neck, shoul­der, arm move­ment; 4. Stiff­ness; 5. Headache; 6. Upper, mid back pain, and 7. None or one pre­sent­ing symp­tom. Items not asso­ci­ated with a favor­able imme­di­ate response included “numb­ness, tin­gling upper limbs,” and “faint­ing, dizzi­ness and light-headedness in 4–12% of the patients. The “take-home” mes­sage here is that was far more com­mon to see a favor­able response (70–95%) of the patients com­pared to an unfa­vor­able response (4–12%), sup­port­ing the obser­va­tion that most patients with neck com­plaints will respond favor­ably to chi­ro­prac­tic treatment.

So, what do we do as Palm Desert chi­ro­prac­tors when a patient presents with neck pain? First, after gath­er­ing pre­lim­i­nary infor­ma­tion such as name, address and insur­ance infor­ma­tion, a his­tory of the pre­sent­ing com­plaint is taken. This con­sists of infor­ma­tion includ­ing what started the neck com­plaint (if you know), when it started, what makes it worse, what makes it bet­ter, the qual­ity of pain (aches, stiff, numb, etc.), the loca­tion and if there is radi­at­ing com­plaints, the sever­ity (0–10 pain scale), tim­ing (such as worse in the morn­ing, evening, etc.), and if there have been prior episodes. Var­i­ous ques­tion­naires are included that are scored so improve­ment down the road can be tracked and a past his­tory that includes a med­ica­tion list, past injuries or ill­nesses, fam­ily his­tory and a sys­tems review are stan­dard. The exam includes vital signs (BP, pulse, height, weight, tem­per­a­ture and res­pi­ra­tion), pal­pa­tion, range of motion, ortho­pe­dic and neu­ro­log­i­cal exam­i­na­tion. X-ray and/or other “spe­cial tests” may also be included, when needed. A review of all the find­ings are dis­cussed and after per­mis­sion to treat is granted, a chi­ro­prac­tic adjust­ment may then be ren­dered. A list treat­ment options may include:
1. Adjust­ments;
2. Soft tis­sue ther­apy (trig­ger point stim­u­la­tion, myofas­cial release);
3. Phys­i­cal ther­apy modal­i­ties;
4. Pos­ture cor­rec­tion exer­cises and other exercises/home self-administered ther­a­pies;
5. Edu­ca­tion about job mod­i­fi­ca­tions;
6. Co-management with other health care providers if/when needed.

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