Most regular neck pain problems nowadays derive from their technology-heavy and sedentary lifestyles. If you think about it carefully: most people spend their days in front of mobile devices and computer screens at work. Then they go home and look at phones, telephones, and television before going to bed. This lifestyle often places an immense amount of stress on the neck, regularly causing posture issues that are a contributor to what causing neck pain.
Massage Therapy vs. Chiropractic Treatment for Neck and Shoulder Pain
As with most people, you have probably thought of getting a massage to relieve your pain. Neck pain can be caused by different factors such as stress, poor posture, wrong sleeping position, or injuries. Determining whether you need a massage therapist or a chiropractor for your neck and shoulder pain depends on the underlying cause of the pain.
Both massage therapy and chiropractic care can effectively treat neck and shoulder pain, but the specific treatment approach may vary depending on the individual case. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine whether you should see a massage therapist or a chiropractor:
Massage therapy is a form of physical therapy that focuses on the muscles and soft tissues of the body. Treatment focuses on the release of tension in the muscles and soft tissues. It involves gentle pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles by a massage therapist.
Massage therapy may be a good option if:
- Your neck and shoulder pain is caused by muscle tension or trigger points.
- You are experiencing general stiffness or soreness in the neck and shoulders.
- You are seeking a relaxing, therapeutic massage to relieve stress and tension.
Chiropractic treatment is a form of physical therapy that targets the spine. It focuses on spinal manipulation to correct misalignments and restore proper alignment. It may also include the use of heat, cold, exercise, stretches, and electrical stimulation to speed up the healing process.
It’s a very effective treatment option for neck pain but it may not be appropriate for everyone. A thorough assessment and medical history are required before starting treatment with a chiropractor or any licensed healthcare professional.
Chiropractic care may be a good option if:
- Your neck and shoulder pain is caused by a misalignment in the spine or joints.
- You are experiencing radiating pain or numbness in the arms or hands.
- You are seeking a more active treatment approach that may include exercises, spinal adjustments, or other techniques to improve alignment and range of motion.
The best way to determine whether you should see a massage therapist or a chiropractor for your neck and shoulder pain is to consult a healthcare professional or licensed practitioner. They can evaluate your condition, discuss your symptoms and goals, and recommend the most appropriate treatment approach for your specific needs.
When to See a Chiropractor for Neck and Shoulder Pain
If you are experiencing neck and shoulder pain, you may consider seeing a chiropractor for an evaluation and treatment. Here are some indications that you should see a chiropractor for neck and shoulder pain:
- Pain that has lasted for more than a few days or is getting worse.
- Pain that is affecting your daily activities, such as work or sleep.
- When you move it to look right, left, up, or down, sharp, sustained pain in the neck.
- Limited range of motion in your neck or shoulder.
- Headaches that are accompanied by neck pain.
- Pain that was caused by an injury or accident.
- Pain may be the result of a more serious condition.
- Pain that you can only get through by taking OTC pain meds regularly.
- Pain is initially contained in the neck but accompanied by numbness or tingling in the arms, wrist, hands, or other parts of the body.
- Pain is worst when you wake up in the morning but gets slightly better throughout the day.
Notably, chiropractors are trained to evaluate and treat musculoskeletal conditions, including neck and shoulder pain. However, if your condition requires further medical attention, such as surgery, your chiropractor will refer you to an appropriate specialist. If you are experiencing severe or persistent neck and shoulder pain, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.
Chiropractic treatment may be advised if one of these factors causes neck pain:
- Chronic postural stress from a prolonged computer or electronic device use
- Poor sleeping posture for an extended period of time, causing chronic neck pain
- Poor slouched posture and the associated joint irritation and muscle spasm
- Regularly carrying a heavy bag or purse for a long time
- Trauma from car accidents or sports injuries
- Wear and tear and degenerative disorders like osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, cervical disc degeneration, and cervical disk herniations
How Chiropractors Treat Neck and Shoulder Pain
Chiropractors use a variety of techniques to relieve neck and shoulder pain. The specific techniques they use may vary depending on the cause and severity of the pain, as well as the individual needs and preferences of the patient. Some of the techniques commonly used by chiropractors to relieve neck and shoulder pain include:
Chiropractors use hands-on techniques to manipulate the spine and realign any misaligned vertebrae, which can relieve pressure on nerves and reduce pain.
Chiropractic neck adjustments (also called cervical manipulation) help to loosen the joints of the cervical vertebrae in your neck. This can lower pain because of pinched nerves, strains, muscle spasms, and other contributing issues.
In most instances of neck pain, the cause is a poor posture in conjunction with wear and tear due to age. A chiropractor uses his hands to manipulate your neck and put the vertebrae back into alignment, fighting the effects of posture and other elements. It happens that the neck pain is sometimes not just local. Discomfort, as a result of pinched nerves, can travel down the shoulder and the arm. A chiropractor can help bring relief to this pain by repositioning the bones, reducing the pressure on the nerves, and relaxing the muscles.
Soft tissue therapy
Chiropractors may use various soft tissue techniques, such as massage or trigger point therapy, to relieve muscle tension and pain. A soft tissue massage can help loosen muscle knots in the shoulders and neck and relieve pain.
Chiropractors may prescribe specific exercises to help strengthen the muscles in the neck and shoulder and improve the range of motion. Chiropractic care and a combination of ongoing stretching and exercise at home can keep neck pain at bay.
Chiropractors may work with patients to improve their posture, which can help reduce strain on the neck and shoulders. A chiropractor would typically instruct patients on proper posture so as to avoid developing a painful neck and shoulder.
Chiropractors may advise on lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, to help reduce neck and shoulder pain. After the pain is relieved, patients are often advised to adjust their current lifestyle, which may be contributing to the pain. Doctors may advise buying an ergonomic pillow for sleeping and an ergonomic chair if you’re working at a desk.
It’s important to note that the specific treatment plan for neck and shoulder pain may vary depending on the individual case. If you are experiencing neck and shoulder pain, it’s important to consult with a licensed chiropractor to determine the most effective treatment plan for your specific needs.
How Does Chiropractic Treatment Help Neck Pain
Chiropractors usually treat neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, headaches, and other symptoms that stem from spinal problems. They use spinal manipulation to treat pain by adjusting the spine and joints, repositioning the bones to restore proper range of motion and movement, and reducing pressure on the nerves. In conjunction with a chiropractic treatment plan, stretching and home exercises can help ensure your neck pain is less likely to come back.
Patients who experience acute and chronic neck pain show improved pain levels after chiropractic spinal manipulation. It has been found to be more effective than taking medications or physical therapy.
Neck adjustments are used to restore proper joint motion and alignment in the neck area or the cervical spine. This type of treatment can help reduce tension in the neck muscles, relieve pain, improve posture, and treat headaches. Many chiropractic techniques for neck adjustments range from gentle instrument spinal adjustments to manual cervical manipulations.
These types of chiropractic treatment are often seen as an alternative to drugs and surgery for some patients. Chiropractors understand the anatomy and the biomechanics of the body, so when a person experiences neck or shoulder pain, they can assess if it’s because of a misalignment in the spine, causing tension and inflammation.
Depending on the case, chiropractic treatment may be short-term and needs fewer visits or long-term. In many cases, people only need to go to the chiropractor five to 10 times to achieve relief from their neck pain. In the case of more chronic or complicated neck pain, a longer treatment plan may be required.