man with neck pain who needs a chiropractor

How Can a Chiropractor Treat Neck Pain?

What Causes Neck Pain?

Neck pain may be the result of sudden traumas such as whiplash or concussions, or it may develop over time from postural imbalances and stress. Pain in the neck is often the result of misalignment of the joints in the neck, inflammation or irritation or degeneration of those joints, tension in the surrounding muscles or irritation of the nerves from the spinal column.

How Does Chiropractic Relieve Neck Pain?

Chiropractic works to restore normal movement in the joints, reduce muscle tension and allow the nervous system in the neck, down the arms and in the torso to function properly again.

Medications for Neck Pain

There are a number of prescription and over-the-counter medications for pain relief. Most fall into one of two categories: analgesic (pain numbing) or anti-inflammatory. The most commonly used are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAID’s.

Medications for neck pain offer temporary, and often times necessary, relief of pain and inflammation, but don’t address the root cause of the problem which means that when medications are stopped, the problem returns.

NSAID’s also come with unwanted side effects: stomach irritation causing diarrhea, acid reflux and bleeding ulcers, erectile dysfunction (ED) and increased risk of cardiovascular disease like heart attacks and strokes (with the exception of aspirin). Examples of NSAID’s include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen. Trademarked names: Advil, Motrin, Naprosen, Anaprox.

Corticosteroids are often administered by injection at the site of musculoskeletal injuries, these may be referred to as cortisone shots. They exert powerful anti-inflammatory effects, but have a number of unwanted side effects including thinning of the skin and osteoporosis.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is referred to as an analgesic, which means that it increases the body’s pain threshold, but it has little effect on inflammation.

COX2 Inhibitors: Most COX2 inhibitors were withdrawn from the market because of an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Celebrex is one that is still available.

Opioids, also known as narcotic analgesics, modify pain messages in the brain but come with a number of side effects: drowsiness, dizziness, respiratory depression, constipation, and urinary retention. They also can lead to addiction.

Muscle relaxants reduce pain from tense muscle groups, most likely through sedative action in the central nervous system.

Anti-anxiety drugs work on pain in three ways: they reduce anxiety, they relax muscles, and they help patients cope with discomfort.

Some antidepressants, particularly the tricyclics, may reduce pain transmission through the spinal cord.

Some anticonvulsant drugs also relieve the pain of neuropathies, possibly by stabilizing nerve cells.

Alternative Medicine Treatments for Neck Pain


Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to relieve pain. Hair thin, sterile needles are inserted locally into the neck and also at remote points to encourage production of natural anti-inflammatories in the brain and direct the immune system to the area to speed healing.

Registered Massage Therapy

Muscle tension contributes to the factors that cause neck pain. Massage therapy can relax muscles, increase circulation to the area, and help maintain proper alignment of the neck so that chiropractic adjustments last longer.

Herbal Remedies

There are a number of effective herbal anti-inflammatories that do not come with the same risks of ulcers and cardiovascular problems as NSAIDs, such as curcumin and boswellia.