Uncomplicated mechanical neck pain is one of the most common complaints we help with on a daily basis as it responds so well to osteopathic manipulation.
Daily activities such as long distance driving, being bent over a computer screen, stress and tiredness or simply poor posture when sitting and standing can all contribute to the development of neck pain.
Nerves in your neck can become irritated or 'trapped' which leads to pain and sometimes numbness or tingling in the shoulders and arms as well.
Anatomy The neck, also known as the cervical spine, consists of seven vertebrae (C1-C7) that connect the base of the skull to the thoracic spine of the torso. C1 (Atlas) and C2 (Axis) are particularly mobile in flexion and rotation respectively.
There are eight paired nerves that exit between the cervical vertebrae and very important arteries supplying the head which run in a bony canal up the side of the vertebrae.
The neck is the most mobile area in the spine and resultantly vunerable to injury. It has to control the eight to ten pound weight of the skull- about the same weight as a small- medium sized bowling ball.
Mechanisms of injury vary but like the analogy of a bicycle chain, the cervical spine has links (facet or zygapophyseal joints). These can get stuck and stiff through underuse or become irritated or inflamed through overuse or injury.
The cervical spine has such unique and precise joint articulations that it is a great area to work with as an osteopath. Most people will notice an increase in range of motion and a decrease in pain almost immediately but the same caveat applies as with all mechanical pain- don't put up with it or the inappropriate movement pattern becomes ingrained in muscle memory.
Headache arising from the neck is another condition that responds well to osteopathic manipulation - see Cervicogenic Headaches.
How can you Osteopath help?
Osteopaths can use a wide range of gentle manipulations depending on your age, fitness and diagnosis to reduce muscular tension in the neck and improve movement in the joints of the neck and upper back. We may gently massage the soft tissues or rhythmically mobilise the joints to release tension and sometimes we may gently manipulate the neck to move the joints and you may hear a “click”
Treatment is different in every individual and sometimes it might involve treating other areas in the back and shoulders as well as the neck.
We may offer advice on your posture at work or in the car and give advice on exercise and stretching to help keep your neck and upper back muscles and joints relaxed.
X-rays, scans and other tests are sometimes required to make a diagnosis and your osteopath can do these privately or may refer to your GP or a specialist for any additional investigations or treatment.
Don’t put up with neck pain! For further information about this or any other general aches, pains, orthopaedic or musculoskeletal problems, arrange a consultation with our friendly, experienced team at Sandbach Osteopathic and Sports Injury Clinic on 01270 759 491.
This type of myoligamentous injury to the neck can result from any sudden uncontrolled movement to the neck resulting in strain and resultant muscle guarding. It doesn't always occur after a road traffic collision but is common after such due to the combination of unexpected impact and potentially high impact forces at play.
It may re-aggravate some chronic neck issues or cause a totally new injury.
The goal of hands on treatment is to relax the muscle spasm and free up any restrictions in the vertebrae ONCE the initial inflammation has been controlled. Medication for this initial inflammation is something your GP or pharmacist can advise on.
Osteopathic treatment can be useful when the initial injury/acute phase has resolved. Initially the advice is only to reduce inflammation, particularly in the first few days/ weeks post injury.