Chiropractic Care of the Spine Improves Breathing and Posture: Cervical Spinal Nerve Four

Our backbone protects the spinal cord and consists of individual vertebrae connected by cartilage. Irritation at any level affects health in crucial ways, and damage at any level has its specific presentation. Spine irritation of the mid-neck affecting the fourth cervical spinal nerve impacts many neck muscles and other areas that can cause pain in the neck and elsewhere. A chiropractor is a licensed healthcare professional who understands how to detect and gently treat this delicate area accurately.

The fourth cervical spinal nerve arises from just above the fourth cervical vertebrae. It is vital in breathing and neck and shoulder motion.  Pain in the middle of the neck that indicates irritation of the surrounding vertebrae and tissues is a serious, unstable condition that can worsen without proper treatment. Mobilization of the neck using hands-on maneuvers or by using the Activator technique provides effective, safe care that restores vertebrae position and balance. Chiropractors also massage muscles and ligaments surrounding the area, which helps to reduce areas of tight weakness.

This nerve contributes fibers to the phrenic nerve, which controls the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large muscle that partitions the upper thoracic region from the lower abdominal portion of the body. The diaphragm attaches just under the last rib and controls breathing. Major arteries and nerves and the esophagus pass through the membrane. Irritation of the nerve controlling the diaphragm has the potential to affect breathing and other autonomic responses. Your chiropractor will also assess the diaphragm region under the ribs and perform needed therapy at that site, if required, to help restore muscle tone to the diaphragm itself. 

Additionally, portions of the fourth cervical spinal nerve directly innervate anterior neck muscles that assist in neck flexion. These muscles are the anterior and middle scalene muscles, the longus colli muscle, and the longus cap8tus muscles. Neck flexion is a vital neck movement that enables us to bend the neck forward as we work at a computer, read a book, or any other daily activities. Forward head posture results from tightness in these muscles of neck flexion. Over time, forward head posture creates tension, headache, and spinal degeneration. The scalene muscles attach onto the first rib and assist in breathing. Impairment of cervical spinal nerve four for any reason can create shallow breathing. Many patients feel a sense of relief following spinal adjustment in part because it is easier to breathe.

The levator scapulae muscle elevates the shoulder scapulae, as its name suggests. This muscle attaches the side of the neck to the medial backside of the shoulder bone; the fourth cervical spinal nerve’s irritation affects neck and shoulder motion and contributes to problems such as shoulder impingement, thoracic outlet syndrome and shoulder weakness. The chiropractic adjustment improves the shoulder range of motion and strength.

If you have questions about how chiropractic care can help you, please contact the chiropractic and acupuncture offices of Dr. Lisa Oskardmay, , Acupuncture and Chiropractic services in Chapel Hill, NC.

Thank you to the experts at Acupractic Natural Healing Center for their input into chiropractic care and natural healing. 

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