The neck is unique as a spinal structure because it has less support that other areas of the spine, which are attached to other parts like the ribs and pelvis. The neck must also support the weight of the head -- about 12 pounds in most adults. The complex and highly mobile shoulder joint include three major bones and supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons. Overuse, trauma, poor posture and even the wrong pillow at night, can all result in neck or shoulder pain.
Although the shoulder and neck are separate structures, they share nerve pathways and some of the muscles are interconnected. The muscles that run up the back of the neck, for example, are actually attached to the shoulder blade. The shared nerve pathways mean the brain can't always distinguish between pain signals from the two areas. Finally, when the neck hurts people often restrict movement of both the neck and the shoulder to prevent the pain from getting worse, and vice versa, which can contribute to muscle tension and spasm.
Treatment is targeted to the cause of the pain. If the neck is out of alignment, a chiropractic adjustment can resolve that problem. Poor posture can contribute to neck pain (especially during desk or computer work) and can be corrected by learning new ways to move as well as by exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles. Some conditions like overuse of the shoulder require rest, and may respond to ice, heat or both.
A common response to pain is to limit movement in the affected areas. It's a temporary solution, but over the long term, it results, in short, tight muscles and ligaments, which can make the problem worse. Misalignment in the neck can even affect other areas of the spine. Chiropractic adjustments can correct alignment problems, allowing free movement and a reduction in pain and spasm.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!