Neck Pain and Chiropractic
A report on the scientific literature
William J. Owens DC, DAAMLP
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
A recent study examined the effect a chiropractic adjustment has on the pain levels of muscle spasm in the neck. When only a part of a muscle goes into spasm it is called a trigger point (knot). These hypersensitive areas are a common cause of pain in the neck and a major reason patients present for treatment. They can occur slowly over time (from things like computer work or video games) or can be the result of an acute trauma such as a car accident or a fall. In a recent study, the authors stated, "A clinical relationship between MTrPs [trigger points] and joint impairments has been suggested by some authors" (Ruiz-Sáez, Fernández-de-las-Peñas, Blanco, Martı´nez-Segura, & Garcı´a-León, 2007, p. 579). In other words, there is a problem with the bones of the spine [subluxation] that contributes to these painful conditions. In most cases, there are multiple areas on the body that have subluxations and in turn, have trigger points. These points were first reported in 1942 and can result in severe pain. Many patients may be on pain medications (even narcotic medication) and be unable to continue with their daily activities.
The another study also related to these issues, the author’s state, “The purpose of this study was to review the most commonly used treatment procedures in chiropractic for MPS [myofascial pain syndrome] and MTrPs” (Vernon &Schneider, 2009, p. 14). Manipulation (chiropractic adjustment) was shown to be effective in reducing the sensitivity to pain in the neck and the middle back which are very common areas to have trigger points. The authors indicate, “There is moderately strong evidence to support the use of some manual therapies in providing immediate pain relief at TrPs”(Vernon & Schneider, 2009, p.189). The key to treatment is having a doctor that can find the CAUSE of the problem, helping to ultimately eliminate the symptoms.
Remember, trigger points are a “symptom” of an improperly functioning muscle and nerve systems. Only a doctor of chiropractic is specifically trained to diagnose and treat subluxations that lead to myofascial trigger points.
1. Ruiz-Sáez, M., Fernández-de-las-Peñas, C., Blanco, C. R., Martı´nez-Segura, R., & Garcı´a-León, R. (2007). Changes in pressure pain sensitivity in latent myofascial trigger points in the upper trapezius muscle after a cervical spine manipulations in pain-free subjects. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 30(8), 578-583.
2. Vernon, H. & Schneider, M. (2009). Chiropractic management of myofascial trigger points and myofascial pain syndrome: A systemic review of the literature. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 32(1),14-24.