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Neck Pain Research - Neck Pain - TJM Disorders - What does a chiropractor do for neck pain?


Chiropractic has never cured anyone of anything.


If we go looking for the named condition that Chiropractic can be applied to and produce change in we will find ourselves in a merry-go-round of symptoms, loosing sight of the whole because of an obsession with the parts. So the question of What can Chiropractic Cure should be changed to "How" can Chiropractic Assist? The answer is simple. A well functioning mind and body has a greater opportunity to heal, repair and function than a poorly functioning one. A well functioning mind and body depends to a significant degree on a well functioning spine and nerve system. This is Chiropractic's contribution.


People find that chiropractic's ability to produce better spine and nerve system function changes their life expression. There are thousands of symptoms and conditions that chiropractic has been associated with helping, however don't ask "Can Chiropractic Cure this or that condition" - instead ask "If my mind and body was functioning better through Chiropractic would I be better placed to handle this condition?"

Neck Pain Research

"This study demonstrates that a single manipulation is more effective than mobilization (physio) in decreasing pain in patients with mechanical neck pain."

Cassidy JD, Lopes AA, Yong-Hing K, The immediate effect of manipulation versus mobilization on pain and range of motion in the cervical spine: a randomized controlled trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1993 May;16(4):279-80; PMID: 8240497

Neck Pain

It is no surprising that neck pain is the second most common condition that chiropractors treat. Whilst neck pain is less common than low back pain, millions of people experience neck pain and related arm pain at some stage in their lives and therefore seek chiropractic care.

Neck pain often results from abnormalities in the soft tissues - muscles, ligaments, and nerves, as well as in the bone and the joints of the spine. The most common causes that chiropractors identify and treat are soft tissue abnormalities from injury or prolonged wear and tear and in many people it is also the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders and arms.When neck pain is caused by muscle strain, you may have aches and stiffness that spread to the upper arm and forearm.


Injuries to the neck caused by a sudden movement of the head backwards and forwards or sideways, are referred to as "whiplash". Whether from a car accident, sporting injury or an accident at work, whiplash or neck injuries warrant a thorough chiropractic examination.

Whiplash is most commonly suffered as a result of a road traffic accident. An impact or collision causes the head to suddenly jerk back and forth beyond its normal limits.

The biggest danger with whiplash is that the symptoms can take years to develop. Too often people do not seek treatment until more complications develop. Even after whiplash victims settle their insurance claims, some 45% report they still suffer with symptoms two years later.

In the past, a typical whiplash injury, where no bones were broken, was hard to document. Soft tissue injury did not show up on normal x-rays/radiographs and insurance companies would deny coverage. Literally adding insult to injury, the patient suffering all too real pain was considered to be a fraud, liar, or at best a hypochondriac. New imaging devises (CAT Scans, Magnetic Imaging and Ultra Sound) now show soft tissue injury and insurance companies now cover most whiplash injuries.


When no bones are broken and the head does not strike the windshield, typical symptoms :

Other symptoms include:
  • Blurred Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Low back pain and or stiffness
  • Vertigo
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Irritability
  • Pain in the jaw or face
  • Fatigue
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Pain in the arms, legs, feet and hands

If you experience any of these symptoms, play it safe and book a chiropractic check-up.

TMJ Disorders

The letters TMJ are the abbreviation of Temporo- Mandibular Joint, which is the joint between your lower jaw and your skull

Movement of this joint allows you to open and close your mouth and chew from side to side. Problems with this joint are common, nine out of ten people having at least one sign or symptom. If your jaw is in the wrong position, the muscles that move your jaw will have to work a lot harder. Your teeth come together up to 2000 times a during biting and swallowing so it is not surprising that a TMJ problem can lead to muscles getting tired and going into spasm.

In some cases, however, the diagnosis is never made because TMJ disorders can lead to variety of seemingly unconnected presenting symptoms a multi-disciplinary approach between chiropractors and dentists mean correct and timely intervention.

What does it cause?

Headaches, neck, shoulder and back pain, facial pain, ear pain, dizziness and tinnitus are commonly associated with TMJ dysfunction. This diagnosis may be missed. Pain or clicking in the jaw and grinding teeth, recurrent dental problems such as loose or broken teeth and decreased jaw movement are more likely to be attributed to jaw problems because of their more obvious association. Of course, diagnosis can be difficult because such a variety of symptoms can be caused by so many other conditions.

For example, trigeminal neuralgia, sinus problems or ear infections. That is why it is important to seek an expert opinion from a chiropractor or dentist.


Failure to establish a timely diagnosis can mean the problem can worsen needlessly. A good example is jaw pain after a whiplash type injury following a traffic accident, where early intervention is highly effective but delay can lead to fibrous gristle building up in the joint leading to permanent problems. If you have any of the below problems, you may very well be suffering from a TMJ disorder.

  • Do you have a jaw problem?
  • History of trauma or recent dental work
  • Jaw clicks
  • Reduced or painful range of jaw movement. As a rule, you should be able to fit a three-finger width between the teeth when the mouth is fully open
  • Teeth fail to meet properly
  • Grinding or clenching
  • Tenderness around TMJ or surrounding muscles
  • Recurrent symptoms in head, neck and shoulders, including headaches or migraines
  • Biting of tongue, cheeks or lips
  • Swallowing problems
The next step

Many dentists do not specialise in jaw problems and, although they use orthodontic appliances, do so only from a cosmetic stand point. Indeed, some TMJ problems are caused by inappropriate dental intervention. Surgery to the joint or bony structure is a last resort as conservative treatment is often effective. We will be able to advise whether you have TMJ problem and what you can do about it.

Why chiropractors work with dentists?

Chiropractors specialise in treating all joints of the body including the TMJ. Skull, neck and pelvic joint movements have been shown to change and be changed by bite problems. This is because some of the jaw problems connect to the spine and others connect to the skull which also influences spinal and pelvic function.

In one case, removing a 3/8" heel lift from a patient’s shoe altered the function of the muscles of jaw leading to sever bite problem. In many patients with TMJ and other musculo-skeletal disorders, the skills of both a dentist and a chiropractor are required to stabilise the condition.

Dental treatment relies on splints (similar to a sportsman’s mouth guard) and braces to modify muscular memory, improve joint function, relax muscles and reposition the jaw. This bite balancing is sometimes known as functional orthodontics. In patients with absent teeth, a bridge or implants are often needed to fill the gaps.

The chiropractor identifies the causes of TMJ problems originating form the spine, pelvis, skull and extremities whilst the dentist ensures the bite does not create any abnormal function of these systems.

Chiropractic treatment

The chiropractic approach uses spinal, pelvic and extremity adjustment to restore restricted joint movement, pelvic support belts and rehabilitation exercises. In some cases, TMJ adjustment and muscle stretching procedures are used to normalise function by, for example, repositioning the TMJ on the joint disc.

This management approach whilst effective in most correctly diagnosed cases can take several months to reach conclusion. Often patients have chronic problems with the teeth, the TMJ and the musculo-skeletal system leading to degenerative joint arthritis in the TMJ and spine. This means people who have been everywhere and done everything with no help can often find relief.

What Can Chiropractors do for Neck & jaw pain?

Your chiropractor will perform a complete consult and examination and may take radiographs (x rays). After review of the examination findings your chiropractor will recommend an appropriate and individual care program. Treatment consists of specific manual adjustments, to the individual joints of the body and spine, which restore damaged neurologic function.