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5 neck misalignment symptoms to watch out for

5 neck misalignment symptoms to watch out for
3 minutes, 37 seconds

Your neck is supposed to sit comfortably at the top of your spine. If it falls out of alignment, you may start to feel some pretty uncomfortable symptoms. In this article, we’ll discuss some neck misalignment symptoms to watch out for so you know when to seek professional treatment. We’ll also dive more into what this condition is and what causes it.

What is neck misalignment?

It’s important to remember that the neck is an extension of your spine. Like the other parts of your spine, your neck has vertebrae in it. These vertebrae are supposed to stay in place for your neck to function properly and without pain, but that doesn’t always happen. Neck misalignment, also known as upper cervical misalignment, occurs when one of the vertebrae in your neck turns or shifts out of place. When this happens, your neck hurts because your vertebra grinds up against other parts of your spine every time you move. As you can imagine (or maybe you already know because you’re experiencing it), this can be very painful.

Neck misalignment symptoms

Pain isn’t the only symptom of upper cervical misalignment. Here are some others to watch out for:

  1. Stiffness — Out-of-place vertebrae can push up against the muscles and ligaments in your neck, creating tears in your soft tissue that damage the muscle cells and lead to stiffness.
  1. Tenderness — A neck that’s tender to the touch could be misaligned, as tenderness is a sign of swelling and inflammation.
  1. Tingling or numbness — It’s possible for misaligned vertebrae to press up against nerves, which can lead to tingling or even create a temporary loss of feeling in the neck.
  1. Headaches — This symptom occurs when misalignment creates tension in the neck muscles that irritates the nerves traveling up the spine and squeezes the vessels carrying blood to the brain. All of this can lead to headaches.
  1. Fatigue — When a misaligned neck compresses the blood vessels, the body must work much harder to pump blood through your body, which can cause fatigue.

The risks of untreated neck misalignment

In extreme cases, untreated neck misalignment can lead to more serious symptoms, including vision problems, vertigo and seizures. Here’s why it can produce those side effects:

  • Vision problems — Your optic nerves need adequate blood flow and oxygen to help you see, so an interruption of blood flow caused by neck misalignment can affect your vision.
  • Vertigo — Pressure placed on the brain stem by the neck vertebrae can lead to dizziness and other symptoms of vertigo.
  • Seizures — Seizures can stem from an imbalance in the central nervous system. A misaligned neck can place so much pressure on various nerves that seizures eventually occur.

Why does neck misalignment happen?

Upper cervical misalignment can have a number of causes. It can be caused by whiplash and other traumatic injuries. It also has mundane causes like poor posture, sleeping on your neck the wrong way, or repetitive injuries caused by holding the neck in awkward positions for long hours (at work, for instance). The birthing process can also cause neck misalignment, as some babies’ upper cervical vertebrae twist out of place as they move through the birth canal.

Can physical therapy treat the symptoms of neck misalignment?

Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for upper cervical misalignment. Here’s how it can help:

  • Realigns spine — Physical therapists can often realign the spine through manual therapy (i.e., bare-handed manipulation of the bones and soft tissue). This can take pressure off any nerves pinched in the neck and allow soft tissue to start healing.
  • Relieves pain — Oftentimes, the neck starts to feel better soon after the spine is realigned. After all, your bones are no longer grinding against each other, and your nerves are no longer pinched under swollen tissue.
  • Corrects posture — Your physical therapist will help you to correct any bad habits in your posture that led to your neck pain in the first place. If your job requires you to hold your neck in awkward positions for long hours, your therapist will teach you how to hold your head while avoiding neck misalignment. 

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for neck misalignment symptoms

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality treatment they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance partner in your region that can help you realign your neck and find pain relief. Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.  Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.

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