Neck Pain can be a debilitating health problem. Our necks are made up of a column of bone called vertebrae, which support and move a heavy head which sits on top of that column. Each vertebrae are separated by discs, stabilized by joints and ligaments, and moved by muscles. The neck is very mobile, which makes it easily damaged.
Onset of pain may be immediate or gradually increase over several days or weeks, and present as a deep ache of the neck, shoulder or arm. It can be intermittent or constant, with certain movements or positions making the pain worse. In some instances you might feel burning or tingling down the arm or hand, and headaches are common. You may also experience stiffness fo the neck and shoulder muscles, and have a reduced range of motion of the head and neck.
Neck injuries most often result from motor vehicle, sports or occupational accidents. Damage may occur to vertebrae, joints, nerves, discs, ligaments and muscles. A common neck injury is the acceleration/deceleration injury or ‘whiplash’ where the head is thrown forward or backward.
Bad posture can cause neck pain, ligaments are over-stretched, muscles become tired and the neck joints and nerves are put under pressure. Slouching your shoulders with your head pushed forward, sleeping with your head in an awkward position, or working with your head down for long periods, will all tend to cause or worsen neck pain. If you are experiencing neck pain, it is important that you have your condition assessed by an Osteopath.
An Osteopath can provide an assessment or examination to help determine the source of pain and its behaviour in the body. The location of the pain and how it behaves can provide an understanding of the underlying physiological problem. Your osteopath can then provide an appropriate treatment plan, which may involve:
- Soft tissue massage
- Joint mobilization techniques
- Postural re-education
- Strengthening, stabilizing and stretching exercises to help you manage your problems long-term
- Trigger point therapy
- Advice and recommendations for ergonomics/desk setup and activity modification
Research tells us that symptoms lasting longer than three months become habitual and are much harder to solve. The sooner you get on top of your neck symptoms the better your outcome.