Various research studies have shown that neck pain is one of the top five most common pain conditions from which Americans suffer.
As part of a nationwide health survey, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute for Health Statistics, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention published a comprehensive look at the most common pain conditions among Americans. Although low back pain was the most commonly reported (more than 25 percent), approximately 15 percent of Americans reported chronic neck pain.1
Types of neck pain
According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), neck pain is the second most common condition that leads prospective patients to seek chiropractic care.2 Of course, not all neck pain is the same, nor does it have the same root cause. These causes can include injuries and accidents, degenerative disease, and physical and emotional stress. These conditions can all result in restricted range of motion for the cervical spine.
Instrument adjusting the cervical spine
There are several reasons why an instrument adjustment for the cervical spine is preferable to a manual one. Perhaps the most important reason is that instrument adjustments, by their very nature, will deliver a greater amount of thrust with less force than will a manual adjustment. This becomes important when considering that the neck is a very delicate area of the body, so a manual adjustment may simply be too painful for many patients. Patients with whiplash (the most common cervical spinal injury) or degenerative conditions such as arthritis may not be able to sustain the force necessary to deliver a manual adjustment of sufficient therapeutic value.
In other cases, patients may have painful soft tissue trigger points in the neck, which can cause referred pain up into the head or down into the shoulder and arm. Here too, an instrument-assisted adjustment can deliver the same amount of thrust as a manual adjustment, but using far less force, thus being less painful for the patient. In addition, an adjusting instrument can reach muscle knots that are deeply buried, not only making the treatment more effective for the patient, but also reducing the amount of stress placed on the DC’s hands and wrists from attempting to do manual trigger-point therapy.
The cervical spine is one of the most important parts of the human body—it must not only hold up the head, but allow both the neck and the head to move in a variety of different directions. Using instrument-assisted adjustments for cases in which the neck does not have full range of motion can provide patients with pain relief, while at the same time allowing the neck to once again move freely.
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Health, United States, 2006. 2006;1232:72.
2 Kargus A. “Conservative care of neck pain.” American Chiropractic Association. http://www.acatoday.org/content_css.cfm?CID=3562. Accessed April 2015.