Dr. Douglass Toth
1223 College Ave, Suite 100
Santa Rosa, CA

Neck and Back Pain

The neck and back are complex structures involved in every movement of daily life.  Prime movers like the trapezius muscle, latissimus dorsi muscle, and erector spinae muscles are responsible for conscious twisting and bending but also very small, deeper layers of muscle are responsible for unconscious postural movements that we don’t even think about.  These muscles along with the hundreds of ligaments, joints and nerves around the neck and back create a multitude of opportunities for sudden injury and chronic pain syndromes.  Unique structures called intervertebral discs between the vertebral bodies are particularly vulnerable to wear and tear as well as sudden injury due to trauma.  Below are some common conditions related to the neck and back:

  • Pinched nerve
  • Disc injury
  • T4 Syndrome
  • Scoliosis
  • Whiplash
  • Rib Misalignment
  • Arthritis
  • Pulled Muscle
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome


Its not always a major trauma that causes pain.  Structural balance and alignment of the joints, muscles, ligaments discs and bones are at the core of a healthy neck and back.  A slow accumulation of poor biomechanics can slowly set the stage for a more sudden pain, discomfort or injury  Over time repetitive pulling, tightening, straining, clenching irritating movements, postures and minor injuries set the stage for a major problem to occur.  Attention to your body’s alignment with chiropractic, and proper stretching and strengthening can prevent problems before they occur.


Treatment for neck or back pain depends on the phase of the injury.  If the injury is acute then rest, ice, and chiropractic adjustments are appropriate.  More chronic conditions require chiropractic adjustments, stretching and strengthening exercises, and may also involve trigger point therapy, traction or other physiotherapy modalities.  Talk with your chiropractor about the best path of treatment for your condition.


Can Chiropractors Help With Neck Pain?

Yes. Chiropractors use chiropractic manipulations targeting the neck (also known as cervical manipulations) to treat neck pain. Cervical manipulations can help reduce pain caused by pinched nerves and muscle spasms. A chiropractor performs cervical manipulations by gently stretching and mobilizing the joints into alignment.

What Does a Chiropractic Neck Adjustment Do?

A chiropractic neck adjustment can improve mobility and increase the range of motion. Chiropractic neck adjustments can also increase the movement of the adjoining muscles. Patients who receive chiropractic neck adjustments report an improvement in their ability to turn or tilt their head. A substantial benefit of neck adjustments includes pain and stiffness reduction.

Massage Therapy Or Chiropractic: Which is Better for Neck Pain?

Massage therapy is designed to relax muscles which can be helpful with neck pain. This reduces swelling and decreases pain. Chiropractic, on the other hand, focuses on alignment and is a more comprehensive approach to neck pain.  Chiropractors focus on the specific problem and develop a focused diagnosis which may include joint mobility, range of motion, pinched nerves, intervertebral discs, inflammation and the spine. A chiropractor may also integrate muscle therapies and is trained to use chiropractic adjustments to treat a wide range of issues that a massage therapist can’t.

How Many Chiropractic Sessions Do I Need for Neck Pain?

Most patients need 4-12 sessions. The number of chiropractic sessions you will need will depend on a number of factors, such as your medical history and the severity and nature of your condition.

Can a Chiropractor Help With a Pinched Nerve?

Yes. Chiropractors use chiropractic adjustments to realign the spine and take pressure off the pinched nerve. A chiropractor is trained to use a gentle touch to reduce pain, relieve tension, and fast track recovery.

Why Do Chiropractors Require So Many Visits?

Sometimes an issue can be handles with one or two visits.  However, a more chronic condition with a more complex history can take a series of spinal adjustment sessions to retrain the spine to remain in its original position. There are several phases of care. These phases can last from weeks to months, depending on the severity and type of the condition.

How Should I Sleep With Neck and Back Pain?

If you have lower back pain, sleep on your back. People with neck pain should sleep on their back or side.

Is it Safe to Go to a Chiropractor for Neck Pain?

Yes. Neck manipulation is a safe procedure. A chiropractor is trained to apply gentle pressure to treat neck pain.