Repetitive strain injury to the neck commonly affects those who spend a lot of time on the phone but don't use a headset, those who work on a fast-paced production line and those who stoop over a laptop or other device for several hours a day. Anything that causes the muscles in your neck to tighten puts you at risk of developing this injury, and as the muscles become tighter, the tendons in your neck can become damaged due to the strain and you can develop a trapped nerve.
Signs of repetitive strain injury to the neck include muscle weakness, numbness, headache and neck pain that intensifies when you use your neck muscles. GPs often prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication as a first-line treatment for this type of injury, but these drugs come with side effects, such as gastric upset and headaches. Chiropractic treatment offers an effective alternative to taking medication. Here's an overview of three ways a general chiropractor can treat repetitive strain injury to the neck:
This hands-on technique is used to treat misalignment of the vertebrae in your neck. When the muscles in your neck tighten, they can pull the vertebrae out of alignment, which can lead to trapped nerves. The chiropractor will use a range of manual adjustments, such as thrusts and stretches, to free trapped nerves and shift the vertebrae. Due to the targeted nature of manual adjustments, some people experience a degree of relief after the first treatment session.
Chiropractors can use massage to loosen tight muscles. Massage encourages improved blood flow to the treatment area, and blood carries oxygen and nutrients required for muscle tissue health. It's not unusual to experience tenderness in your neck for a day or so after an intensive massage, but once the tenderness subsides, your neck should feel less stiff.
There are a number of gentle exercises, such as a chin tuck, prone cobra and corner stretch, your chiropractor can show you. These exercises focus on loosening the neck muscles and then strengthening the muscles to lessen the chance of the injury recurring. The chiropractor will create an exercise plan for you to do at home, and you'll need to commit to doing the exercises regularly to experience improvement in your symptoms.
Chiropractic treatment is safe for children, pregnant women and the elderly, but you should always let your chiropractor know if you are pregnant or have any medical conditions, as this will allow them to treat you as effectively as possible.