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Neck Pain While Driving?

Oct 30, 2013
By Dr. Josh Bross

Neck Pain While Driving?

How many people do you know that have neck pain?  How many of those people have difficulty turning to the side to see if they can change lanes safely?  I see people with this problem it in my Columbia chiropractic office.   There are two typical types that come in:  1) the patient can turn their neck all the way to one side, but because it hurts, they don’t want to;   2) they can’t turn their neck past a certain point with pain.  This is concerning to me not only because it’s my profession, but also as a commuter on the road.  It makes me think, “how many other people are there on the road that don’t have the capability to actually turn to see if I’m in their blind spot?.   I think it makes the roads more dangerous, don’t you?

Neck pain with turning to either direction can happen for any number of reasons; muscle spasm, scar tissue/adhesions, arthritis, joint inflammation, poor posture, etc.  The most common one I see is from scar tissue.  Many people think you can only get scar tissue from surgery.   That is true, but the more frequent way scar tissue forms is due to an area of your body under an increased load for a prolonged period of time.  The body’s natural response is to repair the area that has been damaged, and it does this by producing this sticky, binding scar tissue.   If everything goes well with the repair process, you will be back to normal.  However, it there is a repeated stress to an area (as in poor posture, repetitive sports, etc) the abundance of scar tissue can stick and bind to other tissues, creating a problem called an adhesion.   A common location of adhesions that causes neck pain while driving is in your cervical/thoracic junction.  (see pic)

With the adhesions, these muscles are bound down, and when you try to use them to look at oncoming traffic, they cause pain, weakness, and dysfunction.   Your ability to turn is now limited, and you can’t see the cars coming up from behind you.

What do most people do?  I would say the majority just deals with it. They don’t seek treatment of any kind.  They just assume there is nothing they can do.  Some people will take over-the-counter medicine as needed.  The meds are just a band-aid, to conceal the pain, and can have serious side effects like stomach and liver damage.   Others have tried some kind of therapy, exercise, etc, but they still have pain.

I have good news!  You CAN do something about it.  Usually it’s an easy fix, and sometimes in as little as one treatment the problem can be fixed!  Just make an appointment at our Columbia chiropractic office!

Now that your pain is gone and you can actually see the oncoming car when you turn, you and your passengers are safer.  I think that the State Farm “double check” commercials with Aaron Rogers should include something about saving money if you can turn your neck normally (just saying…).

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