Upper cervical pain can be a source of discomfort for many people. It may also result in headaches and other related symptoms. The anatomy of the neck predisposes humans to upper cervical pain. Many daily habits may also have an impact. A chiropractor such as Dr. Ernest Caruso here at Boca Health and Wellness Center in Boca Raton, Florida, can often help relieve upper cervical pain.
Anatomy and Upper Cervical Pain
The cervical vertebrae consist of seven bones, beginning with the atlas, or C1. This is a distinctly different bone as it is fused with the base of the skull and does not move. C2, the axis, provides a structure on which C1 can rotate. The remaining five cervical vertebrae form the neck and connect with the thoracic spine at the top of the shoulder. The cervical vertebrae allow the head and neck considerable flexibility. However, the adult head weighs around 11 pounds. Structures in the neck must take up the strain of poor posture or injuries such as whiplash.
Causes of Upper Cervical Pain
Upper cervical pain typically results from spasm or misalignment in the neck and skull. Common causes of this problem include:
- Poor posture: People who carry the head thrust forward or who spend much time in front of a computer or texting on a phone can develop muscle spasm, shortened tendons and ligaments, and even misalignment in the vertebrae.
- Injury to the head or neck: When the head and neck are suddenly forced first in one direction and then the other, a person may suffer from whiplash as a result. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash.
- Osteoarthritis: This condition causes deterioration of the cartilage covering and supporting the bony structures. In the spine, the body will often form bone spurs that affect joint motion.
- Stenosis: Narrowing of the spaces in the spine through which the spinal cord travels.
- Herniated disc: Vertebrae are cushioned by tough fibrous cartilage discs. These can rupture and press on the spinal cord.
Upper Cervical Pain and the Chiropractor
Chiropractic care begins with a history and a physical assessment. These help chiropractors determine the most likely cause and location of your neck pain or headache. In many cases, the problem is a spinal misalignment. The doctor will adjust the vertebrae to restore proper alignment. In addition, many patients benefit from additional treatment such as massage therapy. Neck injuries and pain also often result in tense muscles that require corrective exercise to decrease pain and restore function.
If you suffer from neck pain or headaches, please contact the Boca Health and Wellness Center at 561-571-0474. We treat patients of all ages and offer extended hours to help meet your scheduling needs. We are located at 3350 N.W. Boca Raton Boulevard in Boca Raton, Florida.