No matter if you are sitting or standing, engaging in proper posture from head to toe can help your whole body function better. Proper posture involves what is known as a neutral spine, where there is a gentle curve in your neck, between your shoulder blades, and in your lower back. When you practice good posture, your spine is able to effectively support your body. Poor posture can cause imbalances and may put pressure on one part of your spine more than the other. Proper spinal alignment of the vertebrae in your spine also plays a key role in your overall healthy functioning. There are 33 vertebrae in your spine that stack one on top of the other and provide function and stability for your body. Even the slightest misalignment of one of these vertebrae can cause uncomfortable symptoms and issues. If your neck is out of alignment, whether due to chronic poor posture or a recent injury, then you may need neck pain treatment to help address your neck alignment.
Healthy Neck Alignment
When you sit or stand with proper posture, your neck should have a slight forward curve. A healthy neck alignment means your ears are in line with your shoulders and the underside of your chin is parallel with the ground. Turning your head from side to side or up and down should not cause pain or discomfort when your neck is properly aligned. Your spinal column houses the central nervous system, which allows your brain to effectively communicate with the rest of your body through a series of nerves. The healthy alignment of vertebrae in your spine means these nearby nerve endings can send and receive signals from the brain. If vertebrae or the spinal discs that separate them move out of proper alignment, it can aggravate or compress nearby nerves, disrupting their signals. This is why a healthy spinal alignment has a positive impact on your whole body and why misalignments can cause pain and other issues that disrupt your healthy functioning.
Causes of Neck Misalignment
There are several reasons why your neck is out of alignment. Here are five common causes of a misalignment in the neck and how this can impact you.
Poor posture may not seem like a big deal, but it can have lasting negative effects on your overall health and well-being. In fact, poor neck posture can cause the vertebrae and spinal discs in your neck to compress nearby nerves. Tech neck is a forward head posture known to cause misalignments in the neck and disrupt healthy functioning. This type of poor posture is common with people who hunch forward while looking at their phone or sit leaning over a desk for long hours at a time. When you engage in poor posture, this can put too much pressure on one part of your neck, causing tension and even weakness in other areas.
Car Accident Injuries
A sudden neck injury in a car accident can also impact alignment in your neck. Whiplash is the most common type of car accident injury and affects millions of people every year. If you suffer from a whiplash injury, you may notice pain, tenderness, stiffness, and difficulty turning your head from side to side. The sudden force of impact from another vehicle can cause your head and neck to snap forward and backward violently, straining neck muscles and disrupting the healthy alignment of your neck. You may not even realize you have suffered a neck injury like whiplash immediately after the accident until you start to notice pain and other symptoms as the shock and adrenaline wear off.
Sports injuries, especially in contact sports, can cause disrupt the healthy alignment of your spine. A sudden or direct blow to the head or upper body can put a lot of pressure on your spine in your neck and back. An injury in the area can cause swelling and inflammation, which can further disrupt healthy spinal alignment. Protective equipment can help reduce the risk of injuries while playing sports, but it is still possible for a sports injury to cause your neck to be out of alignment.
Slips & Falls
A slip and fall injury can cause you to hit your head and damage your spine. Whether you lose your balance or trip over an object on the floor, you may not have enough time to brace or catch yourself. Even a mild injury from a slip and fall can impact healthy alignment in your neck. Too much pressure or stress on the neck can cause slight misalignment of vertebrae or spinal discs, which can lead to pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. If you slip or fall and hit your head, be sure to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible to rule out any serious head injury.
Stress and tension over time can negatively impact your muscles and other soft tissues that support your head and neck. When you are overwhelmed or stressed out, your body may react physically by tensing up your shoulders and neck. This can strain neck muscles and put too much pressure on your spine. Tension in your neck can cause an inflammatory response in your body, which can put pressure on your spine and lead to misalignments that make your symptoms worse.
Neck Misalignment Symptoms
Whether you suffered a recent injury or catch yourself engaging in poor posture frequently, here are some signs your neck is out of alignment.
The first symptom of a misalignment in your neck may be pain. This could be a dull, throbbing ache or a sharp, stabbing pain. Pain is common with a misalignment in the spine because nearby nerves can become aggravated and send out erroneous messages and pain signals.
An injury or issue with your neck can cause the muscles and soft tissues nearby to become stiff. Stiffness in your neck can make it difficult to turn your head in certain ways or get comfortable when you lie down to sleep at night.
You may notice your neck is tender to the touch after an injury to the area. This can be a sign of swelling and inflammation beneath the skin. You could also develop tenderness as a response to aggravated or compressed nerves nearby.
When a nerve is compressed by a misalignment in the neck, it can cause a tingling sensation sometimes referred to as pins and needles. You may notice this tingling feeling occur in your neck and radiate into your shoulder, arm, and hand.
Numbness can also occur with tingling when a spinal misalignment compresses a nearby nerve. A misalignment in your neck can disrupt nerve signals and cause numbness that radiates from your neck and into your shoulder, arm, and hand.
Chiropractic for Neck Alignment
Chiropractors offer natural and noninvasive solutions for addressing misalignments in the neck. You can visit your local Atlanta chiropractor for safe and effective solutions to addressing your symptoms associated with a neck misalignment. Here are three ways a chiropractor can help when your neck is out of alignment.
Chiropractic adjustments are safe and gentle techniques that help resolve misalignments in the spine. Your chiropractor will either use their hands or a chiropractic tool to put targeted pressure on a misalignment to help restore the vertebrae and spinal discs to their proper positioning. Chiropractic adjustments can help realign your spine and restore proper nerve functioning. A chiropractor will also help reduce pain and inflammation in your neck and upper back to help support a healthy, neutral spine.
Soft Tissue Mobilization
Your Atlanta chiropractor may also use soft tissue mobilization to help with a neck misalignment. The soft tissues that support your neck can become damaged or weakened, meaning they are not able to provide the support your neck needs to maintain a healthy alignment. Therapeutic massage and soft tissue mobilization will promote healing in the area. These hands-on techniques address the muscles, ligaments, and fascia to help break down adhesions and optimize healthy functioning in your neck.
Stretches & Exercises
Stretches and exercises can also help you improve your posture, strength, and flexibility in your neck and back. Your chiropractor may recommend certain stretches or exercises to improve the range of motion in your neck muscles and reduce stiffness. Even a simple exercise routine like going for a walk each day can help ease the pressure on your spine and promote healthy blood flow and healing. As you improve the strength in your neck, you will experience health benefits and improved functioning in your overall health.
Don’t let neck pain negatively impact your quality of life! Visit AICA Orthopedics in Atlanta to get started on neck pain treatment with our team of experts. At AICA Orthopedics, orthopedic doctors, surgeons, physical therapists, and chiropractors all work together to provide you with quality, comprehensive treatment and care. Schedule an appointment with one of our neck pain specialists to get started today at AICA Orthopedics in Atlanta.