Neck Conditions for Seniors

The main neck conditions that I see for older folks relate to arthritis and loss of range of motion. The most common sign is the inability to turn the neck far enough to back the car out of parking places. This becomes dangerous and problematic when in a highly traveled area like a grocery store parking lot. If you are noticing that it is harder to get backed out and is difficult to see because you can’t turn your neck, it’s time for an assessment.

Arthritis Causes

When looking at the cause of the arthritic neck, we look at past history. Some people spent their youth “cracking” their necks and now, the scar tissue has caught up with them. Other causes include past trauma, which can be from car accidents, sports injuries, or work related overuse injuries. Previous history of surgical intervention in the neck can cause additional scar tissue. If you have had a previous surgery involving a fusion, often times this will preclude you from getting a neck adjustment at all. When you come in, if you have had a fusion, please bring x-rays of the post surgery neck so I can see what I’m dealing with. With some fusion cases, it is possible to adjust with the light force instrument adjusting technique and get some relief.

Neck Adjusting

Often times the arthritic neck conditions can be adjusted in the same way as the non-degenerated neck. The forces necessary are very different in these circumstances. I have found, especially with arthritis, it is better to use less force and better technique. There is also potential for using lower force instrument adjusting to relieve the fixations and restore the motion desired. Most often, I combine very specific adjusting by hand with instrument adjusting to get a maximal outcome with each visit. Additionally, I usually will suggest a stretching regime to decrease the fascial restrictions between muscles, increase pliability of scar tissue, and increase muscle length.

Many arthritis types can be dealt with and respond nicely to chiropractic care.

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Childhood Neck Conditions

I see a variety of childhood neck conditions and some of the main ones include torticollis, sports injuries, and ear aches. Kids are rough and tumble so there are lots of chances for minor injuries. Most childhood spinal injuries go undetected until later in life.

Kids Spines

Let’s talk about kid’s that are older than 2 years and younger than 12 years of age. During these years the bones of the spines experience rapid growth and the ossification centers begin to deposit more calcium. The necks of children in this age group are more pliable than their teen counterparts but more stable than in infancy. I am aware of some of the medical criticism of chiropractors for adjusting necks in childhood. In my experience, if the adjustment is done using lighter forces they are perfectly safe.

Talk to your children about the adjustment. Kids at this age are pretty scared of doctors and need some reassurance. Let them know that a chiropractor is a different kind of doctor. I try to explain what I will be doing, show them the tools, and be really honest about when it might hurt. If I can treat a relaxed child, the adjustment is that much less ouchy.



Torticollis is a condition where the vertebra in the neck slip out of place, causing muscle spasm. The sternocleidomastoid muscle that runs from behind the ear to the collar bone and the sternum is the culprit in this case. Children with torticollis wake up in the morning in pain. They are unable to move their neck and will have their neck in a flexed and rotated position.

Ice is the first line of defense followed by an adjustment of the vertebrae when things relax a little. This adjustment is not very pleasant if done too early in the healing. With movement of the neck, the nerve is allowed to heal and the cycle is stopped. This is an acute condition that will get better with time, a bit of ice, and some age appropriate anti-inflammatories. Keep your child calm, limit activity and move the head around in the pain free ranges of motion. If we can get some movement going, the adjustment gets easier.

Ear Infections

Ear infections is another common condition that I treat in children. The eustachian tubes for younger kids are more parallel to the horizon and really don’t drain well. When the top bone of the spine (atlas) is rotated, this can put pressure on the upper neck and throat area, blocking the eustachian tubes. There is a buildup of fluid and bacterial infection behind the ear drum. With an adjustment of the atlas the pressure is relieved and the ears drain. The bacterial infection most often will clear up on its own and the ears should do better. Keep in mind that once a vertebra has gone out of place, it will go there again.

Sports Injuries

Sports Injuries are the last category I want to cover for this age group of children. Kids this age, are not known for generating great speeds or forces in their athletic activities, but accidents do happen. Falls from bikes, play structures, or swings have potential to cause significant injury. Kids at the upper ends of this age group are participating in organized sports that can have potential for injury. Obvious injuries like fractures and head traumas should be seen at urgent care. Later in the treatment process, it’s wise to have them checked for subluxation. This is the age group where some of these lifelong injuries happen that with a simple adjustment, we can restore them to full function without the long term effects.

Minor bumps and falls should also be checked by a chiropractor to restore any fixed vertebra that may go undetected. For optimal health, children should be checked once per month to once per quarter as a preventative to keep their spines in the best possible shape for growth and maturation.

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Painful baby necks illicit tears

Infants Necks

The birth process is pretty traumatic for baby necks. The first body part to present is the baby’s head. The doctor will use the head to start the rest of the body through the birth canal. We see infants that cry unceasingly, have colic, and will only turn their head in one direction. These symptoms suggest neck trauma that should be checked out by a qualified chiropractor. Nothing against Obstetricians, they are doing what they need to do. There are follow-ups that need to be done by a chiropractor and most people don’t consider that.


Adjusting baby necks is one of the least invasive procedures that I do. The forces needed to make a change in the spine of an infant are extremely small. Parents are usually unaware of then the adjustment actually happened. The change for the baby can be night and day.

I had one patient that brought her infant son in to me because she was at her wits end. She told me, “fix this,” as she handed me her baby. I adjusted him with a very light force neck adjustment and sent them home. She told me three days later it was like having a new baby. Her baby slept through the night, was happy, and seldom cried.

It’s not always that profound of a difference. Most of the time, a neck trauma like this takes more than one adjustment. Over the course of a few weeks, the infant can have a life changing experience with chiropractic adjustments. Parents can also have a life changing experience in how they relate to their baby.

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