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Fairfax, VA

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Neck Pain Treatment

Neck Pain Treatment Specialist in Fairfax VA

Robert J. Zapf, MS, DC

  • Neck Pain Specialist in Fairfax, VA
  • Former Associate Professor, Palmer College of Chiropractic
  • 35 years of Chiropractic Experience

Neck pain is a common problem, especially in urban areas like Fairfax, Virginia where countless hours are spent staring down at cell phones and computers. Supporting your head in a forward position puts a tremendous strain on the muscle, joints, tendons and ligaments of the upper back and neck. This prolonged stress can result in neck pain, upper back pain, and headaches. Eventually this wear and tear can lead to Degenerative Joint Disease (Osteoarthritis) and chronic, unremitting pain.

If you are suffering from neck and upper back pain, I hope you will take a few minutes to discover chiropractic treatment methods your doctor may not have told you about.

This page contains a Comprehensive Guide for the Treatment of Neck Pain, including Treatment, Causes, Symptoms and Home Care Tips.

Relieve Your Neck Pain
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Neck Sports Massage Therapy

Research has shown that Spinal Manipulative Therapy is both safe and effective for the treatment of acute neck pain.

A recent meta-analysis of multiple research trials has concluded that “spinal manipulative therapy alone or in combination with other modalities was effective in the treatment of acute neck pain.” The analysis also concluded that there were few adverse side effects with spinal manipulative therapy.

Aleksander Chaibi, Knut Stavem, and Michael Bjorn Russell, Spinal Manipulative Therapy for Acute Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials, J Clin Med. 2021 Nov; 10(21): 5011.

Chiropractic Treatment for Neck Pain: A Comprehensive Guide

What is Chiropractic Treatment?

Chiropractic treatment is a natural and non-invasive method of treating various musculoskeletal conditions, including neck pain. It involves manual adjustments to the spine, neck, and other joints to improve their function and reduce pain. 

Benefits of Chiropractic Treatment for Neck Pain:

  • Reduced pain and muscle spasm in the neck, upper back, and shoulders.
  • Reduced pressure on pinched nerves.
  • Reduced cervicogenic headaches.
  • Increased mobility.
  • Improved posture.
  • Better sleep
  • Increased range of motion

Techniques Used in Our Chiropractic Treatment of Neck Pain:

Dr. Zapf uses a variety of techniques to relieve neck pain. Our individualized treatment programs for neck pain consist of custom, gentle blends of the following modalities:

  • Chiropractic Spinal Manipulative Therapy (Adjustments). Chiropractic manipulation is a procedure used to gently move misaligned vertebrae (known as a subluxation) to relieve pressure spinal nerves. This process increases range of motion, improves function, reduces nerve irritability, and alleviates muscle spasm and pain.
  • Computerized Cervical Decompression (Traction). A computer-controlled device decompresses the neck and upper back gently and precisely. The FDA has cleared this unit to relieve pressure on joints and discs of the spine. It relieves pain associated with herniated discs, protruding discs, degenerative disc disease, posterior facet syndrome and nerve compression.  It is especially effective in treating neck pain and low back pain.
  • Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) is used in in this clinic to reduce of pain, relax muscle spasms, increase local blood circulation and maintain or increase of range of motion.
  • Therapeutic Ultrasound. A passive therapy that uses high frequency sound waves to penetrate through the skin into the deep tissues of the body. Research shows that ultrasound waves significantly improve healing of tissues and relieves pain, stiffness.
  • Therapeutic Exercise and Massage. In our clinic, therapeutic exercise and massage are used to improve joint mobility, posture, and recovery time. They are also beneficial for alleviating pain caused by soft tissue strains, inflammation, and muscle tension.

Causes of Neck Pain

Neck pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Poor posture. Prolonged sitting at a desk or computer, sleeping on your stomach, or slouching in a chair can result in muscle spasm and pain in the neck or back.
  • Repetitive motions. Prolonged or repetitive lifting (carrying a purse or backpack), repeated or prolonged movements of the head, neck, shoulders, or arms (raking leaves or swinging a hammer) can result in muscle spasms and pain in the neck, shoulders, arms, or hands.
  • Injuries. Whiplash or trauma to the upper body can result in damage to bones, discs, muscles, or nervous system.
  • Arthritis. Cervical osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease). A common cause of chronic neck pain is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the result of the stress, strain and injury experienced during your lifetime. Most people over the age of 35 have some degree of this condition. Osteoarthritis in the cervical spine can cause bone spurs to develop around the vertebrae (bones of the spine), degeneration or narrowing of the discs, narrowing of the spinal canal (Spinal Stenosis), and narrowing of the openings through which the spinal nerves exit the spine (Foraminal Stenosis).  
  • Stress. Emotional stress can result in increased pain and tension in the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and neck. It can also result in cervicogenic headaches.

Regardless of the cause, chiropractic care can usually help to relieve neck pain and improve overall function.

Red Flag Symptoms for Neck Pain

Red flag symptoms are warning signs that indicate a potentially serious underlying condition that may require prompt medical attention. The following are considered red flags for neck pain:

  1. Unexplained weight loss: Sudden, unexplained weight loss can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such cancer, which may be causing the neck pain.
  2. Recent trauma or injury: Neck pain following a recent trauma or injury, such as a fall or car accident, may indicate a more serious underlying condition, such as a spinal fracture or nerve damage.
  3. Pain that spreads down arms: If your neck pain spreads down your arms or into your fingers, it may be a sign of nerve compression, such as a herniated disc, that requires prompt medical attention.
  4. Weakness, numbness, or tingling in arms or legs: If you experience weakness, numbness, or tingling in your arms or legs, it may be a sign of a nerve problem, such as spinal stenosis or a herniated disc.
  5. Difficulty speaking or swallowing: If you have trouble speaking or swallowing, it may be a sign of a serious condition, such as spinal cord compression, that requires prompt medical attention.
  6. Nighttime pain: If your neck pain is worse at night or interferes with your ability to sleep, it may be a sign of a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention.
  7. Fever: If you have a fever along with your neck pain, it may be a sign of an infection, such as a spinal abscess, that requires prompt medical attention.
  8. Persistent pain: If your neck pain persists for more than a few weeks, despite conservative treatment, it may indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires further evaluation and treatment.

Home Care Techniques for Neck Pain

Neck pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, muscle strain or sprain, stress, or an injury. If you're experiencing neck pain, there are several home care techniques you can use to alleviate your symptoms.

  • Rest: Give your neck a break and avoid any activities that may cause further strain. .
  • Massage: Gently massaging the affected area can help to increase blood flow and reduce muscle tension.
  • Stretching: Gentle stretching exercises can help to loosen up the muscles and alleviate stiffness.
  • Posture: Pay attention to your posture and try to avoid slouching or hunching over.
  • Ergonomics: Make sure your workspace is set up properly, with your computer screen at eye level and your keyboard and mouse positioned in a way that is comfortable for you.
  • Pain relief medication: Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help to reduce pain and inflammation.

It's important to remember that if your neck pain is severe or lasts for an extended period of time, you should consult with a health care specialist professional for further evaluation and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is chiropractic treatment safe?

Yes, research shows that chiropractic treatment is a safe, effective and natural way of treating neck pain. It is important to choose a licensed and experienced chiropractor to ensure the best possible results. 

How long does treatment take?

The length of treatment will vary depending on the cause and severity of your neck pain as well as your overall health. On average, most people experience significant improvement after just a few visits.

What is the number of visits required?

The number of visits required will vary depending on the severity of your neck pain and your overall health. Your chiropractor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that's tailored to your specific needs.

Will Insurance Cover Chiropractic Treatment?

Most insurance plans cover chiropractic care for neck pain.  Be sure to check with your insurance provider to determine the specifics of your coverage. 

Medical Treatment for Neck Pain

The typical medical treatment for neck pain often involves a combination of pain medications, muscle relaxants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The specific treatment plan will depend on the underlying cause of the neck pain and the severity of the symptoms.

1.  Pain Medications:

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be used to manage mild to moderate neck pain. For more severe pain, prescription pain medications such as opioids or corticosteroids may be prescribed.

Adverse side effects of pain medications include:

  • Stomach ulcers and bleeding
  • Drowsiness and dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Addiction and dependence 

2.  Muscle Relaxants and Adverse Side Effects:

  • Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril): Common side effects of cyclobenzaprine include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, and dry mouth. Less common side effects can include blurred vision, constipation, increased heart rate, and urinary retention.
  • Methocarbamol (Robaxin): Common side effects of methocarbamol include drowsiness, dizziness, and headache. Less common side effects can include nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach.
  • Carisoprodol (Soma): Common side effects of carisoprodol include drowsiness, dizziness, and headache. Less common side effects can include nausea, vomiting, and upset stomach.
  • Baclofen (Lioresal): Common side effects of baclofen include drowsiness, dizziness, and weakness. Less common side effects can include blurred vision, headache, and constipation.
  • Diazepam (Valium): Common side effects of diazepam include drowsiness, dizziness, and headache. Less common side effects can include blurred vision, constipation, and confusion.

3.  NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs):

Some common examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin.  

Adverse side effects of NSAIDS:

  • Stomach ulcers and bleeding
  • drowsiness
  • kidney and liver damage

It's important to keep in mind that drug therapy is often only one part of a comprehensive treatment plan for neck pain. In many cases, chiropractic care and physical treatment such as exercise may be more effective in treating the underlying cause of the pain and providing long-lasting relief.

Ultimately, the best approach for neck pain will depend on several factors, including the underlying cause of the neck pain, the severity of the symptoms, and the individual's overall health and medical history. It's always a good idea to talk to your doctors about the best treatment options for your specific needs.

How Chiropractic Treatment is Different

Compared to other methods such as drug therapy and surgery, chiropractic treatment is a natural and non-invasive method of treating neck pain. Additionally, chiropractic care focuses on addressing the underlying cause of your neck pain, rather than simply treating the symptoms.  Recent research has found that chiropractic therapy is effective and safe for the treatment of most cases of neck pain.

Begin relieving your neck pain today.  Schedule an appointment with Dr. Zapf.  Call  (703) 455- 9555

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