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Neck Pain

You have a neck not just to hold up your head, but as a connection between your brain and your body.  The neck surrounds your spine which holds and protects your spinal cord.  Billions of messages pass up and down every second regulating and controlling the trillions of cells in the body, turning it all into the functional miracle that is life.

Neck pain

Neck pain results from a number of causes; one of the most common is a problem with the joints and muscles between the vertebrae.  When the joint problem causes a problem with the nerves in the spine it is called a subluxation.1 Neck pain is an extremely common and disabling problem.  As many as 31% of adults have had neck pain in the last month, and 48% of neck pain patients report persistent pain one year later.2  It is not unusual that pinched/irritated nerve’s in the neck refer out into the upper back/chest/arm or head area (see headaches). Recent or old injuries are the most common cause and the longer things are left the more scar tissure and degeneration is involved.
The Chiropractic approach is to locate the malfunctioning joint/s (subluxation/s), then adjust it to restore movement/function.3 In addition exercises to improve postural and muscle balance and aid in the strengthening of the spine often will be employed to aid and speed up rehabilitation of the neck.4,5

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Research notes:

A study of 93 patients showed significant improvement with Chiropractic care.6

An Australian study found that 90% of patients with chronic neck pain post-whiplash have limited ROM.  60% of the pain arises from the facet joints.7 (Facet joints being the joints at the back of the spine).  These being the ones that subluxation affects).

A study of 115 patients with neck pain showed 94% were satisfied – very satisfied with Chiropractic care.8

A study of 27 patients with neck and arm pain with clear evidence of spinal cord encroachment showed on average a 70% improvement.9

A study of 192 patients did significantly better with Chiropractic than acupuncture or medication.  The long term follow up 12 months afterwards showed only the manipulation group showing “significant broad-based beneficial…. Long-term outcomes”.10



1. Cailliet R. Neck and arm pain. Philadelphia: FA Davis. 1979:45.

2 .Hill J, Lewis M et al. (2004) Predicting Persistent neck pain, Spine 29:1648-1654.

3. Palmer DD.  The Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic. Portland, OR: Portland Printing House Company, 1910.

4. Liebenson C (2007) Intergrated approach to the Cervical spine.  Rehabilitation of the Spine: A Proactitioners Manual, 2nd edition, ed. Liebenson C, Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore.

5. Conservative Management of Cervical Spine syndromes (2000)ed. Murphy DR, McGraw Hill, New York.

6.  Khan S, Cook J et al. (1999) A symptomatic classification of Whiplash injury and the Implications for Treatment, J Orthopaedic Med 22(1):22-25.

7. Lord Sm, BarnsleyL, et al (1996) Chronic Cervical sygapophysial joint pain after whciplash.  A placebo-controlled prevalence study, Spine 21(15):1737-1745.

8. Haneline MT (2006) Symptomatic outcomes and perceived satisfaction levels of chiropractic patients with a primary diagnosis involving acute neck pain, J Manipulative Physiol Ther 29:288-29.

9. Murpy D, Hurwitz E, Gregory A (2006) Manipulation in the presence of cervical spinal cord compression: A case series, J Manipulative Physiol Ther 29:236-244.

  1. Giles LG, Muller R (2003)Chronic Spinal pain:A Randomized Clinical trial compaing medication, acupuncture and spinal manipulation, Spine 28(14):1490-1503

Cameron Finlayson treats neck pain  Cameron Finlayson is a Chiropractor in Auckland, New Zealand for the last 21 years.