You have probably had the experience before, where after a few days of back pain or neck pain, things tend to resolve on their own. The pain goes away and things pretty much go back to normal. Or so it seems…
Often when pain “goes away” it leaves something behind! It leaves limited range of motion. This happens most commonly in your neck. You may have some intense pain for a few days when it hurts to turn your head, and then the pain subsides, and you think everything is back to normal again. Unfortunately, when the original problem included joint irritation, the disappearance of pain does not necessarily mean the problem is gone. Your body works hard to return to a steady state after any kind of stress or injury, and it compensates for areas of injury by contracting different muscle groups to “splint” the area and remove the pressure. This actually works remarkably well, and usually after a few days you don’t feel the pain any more. What is less obvious is the fact that you have now lost mobility in your neck. Most people can turn their heads about 90 degrees each way, but after an instance like this, it may have reduced down to 75 or 80 degrees. Many people won’t notice this difference unless it is identified to them, there is no pain and the body adapts to its new reality. Over time these events can add up, giving you significant fixation and possibly deterioration in the joints.
The first time I ever saw a chiropractor, I was 21 years old. I wasn’t aware of any specific neck pain at the time, but after he worked on my neck, I couldn’t believe how far I could turn my head. I had had years of built up restriction that had never been addressed.
Ideally, you should come see a chiropractor while it’s still hurting, but if the pain has already subsided, I strongly recommend you still get it looked at – and make sure your range of motion has returned to normal.