Cervical spine pain (neck pain)


Every year, up to 50% of adults experience neck pain to some degree. Studies point out that between 50 and 85% of people with neck pain fail to get relief after traditional medical treatment with painkillers. From those, some can develop impairing pain that affects quality of life.

Neck pain or cervical spine pain can affect the seven first vertebrae in the spine (back bones), as well as soft tissues, muscles and ligaments in this area. There are several conditions that can cause neck pain and stiffness, such as osteoarthritis, trauma or injury, disc prolapse, fibromyalgia and others. Thus, a detailed medical exam is always recommended to exclude underlying medical conditions.



When chiropractor and osteopathic treatment do not alleviate the symptoms, often there is a bad bite component to neck pain.

A balanced bite is what keeps the first and second vertebrae in the cervical spine stable. When bite issues are present, such as loss of vertical dimension, worn out back teeth and misalignments, the cervical spine and its nerves and arteries are compressed, which causes pain. In addition, a healthy bite also helps keep the skull bones balanced.

When bite issues are present, every time the lower jaw meets the upper jaw, it becomes a bumpy ride for the jaw joint and associated muscles, since chewing forces concentrate in some areas, causing tension in the chewing muscles, which also spread to the skull bones. The skull and the spine are covered by a protective membrane; it contains nerves that react to the tension in the bones with pain.

This means that fixing the neck does not solve the problem when a bad bite is involved.



The correction of bite problems through medical orthodontics can stabilize the jaw joint, chewing muscles, jaw bones and the whole skull and cervical spine system.

Not everybody with bite issues will develop pain in the neck area, since for some people, neck muscles can compensate for the unbalanced bite. However, it can be a ticking bomb. When further stress is added, such as from tooth grinding and clenching, the muscles can enter a state of chronic tension that translates into local pain in the face or referred pain in the neck.

The orthodontist can correct bite, arch and jaw issues through many ways. Traditionally, this was done with braces, but now clear aligners have become very popular. Those are removable and discrete, making it possible to cope with everyday life. A digital scanning is done initially and a specific software allows for visualization of the treatment result. Customized plastic trays are printed and consecutively changed after 3 weeks to gently guide teeth and bones to a more ideal position.

Once the bite/cranial/cervical complex is balanced and stable, the tension in the muscles and membranes in the skull and cervical spine is solved and the pain resolves.

Do you suffer from chronic pain and stiffness in the neck area? Your bite could be to blame. Talk to your orthodontist today.