Your neck is very vulnerable to injury. Located at the top of the spinal column, the cervical bones in the neck support the head and are capable of a wide range of motion. While this large range of motion is highly useful, it often leads to stress being placed on the neck while it is in an awkward position, resulting in pain and stiffness.
Sources of this stress can be as simple as falling asleep with your neck at a bad angle or it can be something more severe such as a herniated disc or spinal nerve root inflammation. Other common causes include bad posture while using a computer, watching TV or even reading a book. You may also experience neck pain as a result of car accidents, chronic degenerative conditions, and aging. Chiropractic treatment combined with physiotherapy in particular is very effective for common neck pain.
A common injury to the neck is a whiplash injury that can occur during rear-end automobile collisions, when your head suddenly moves backward and then forward — similar to the motion of someone cracking a whip. These extreme sudden jerky motions push your neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion therefore creating micro tearing of the muscles and ligament in the neck and sometime herniation of the spinal discs can occur.
Whiplash injuries can be mild or severe and sometimes symptoms do not manifest until days after the injury occurred. Treatment typically begins with over-the-counter pain relievers and ice applied to the painful neck muscles. Physical therapy, and spinal manipulation is very helpful in the acute and sub-acute stages of the injury to reduce inflammation and restore proper range of motion. Most people recover from whiplash in just a few weeks, but some people may develop chronic pain after a whiplash injury due to severe soft tissue injuries.