Neck pain has a number of common types. Many people develop a stiff and painful neck for no obvious reason. It may happen after sleeping or sitting in a draught or perhaps after a minor twisting injury. The underlying cause for this type of neck pain is not fully understood, so it is called ‘non-specific neck pain’. It is the most common type of neck pain and often disappears after a few days. If it doesn’t resolve within a couple of days it is wise to have an examination and treatment.
Whiplash often follows a rear-end collision in a car. In this type of collision, first the body is carried forward and the head flips backwards. Then, as the body stops, the head is thrown forwards. Following a whiplash injury there is often a delay before the pain and stiffness start. Although whiplash can badly damage your neck, the majority of people who suffer these shunt accidents do not have major damage. In most cases injuries feel better within a few weeks or months.
Tension. Most muscles of the body relax completely when they are not being used but some muscles (known as ‘anti-gravity muscles’) have to work all the time in order to keep your body upright. When these muscles work too hard or are not strong enough, it can cause neck pain and tension headaches. People who are worried or under stress often sub-consciously tighten their muscles more than is necessary to hold their head upright. Working at a computer station and sitting slumped with head forward loads the neck muscles and may create tension headaches.
With everyday use over many years the discs and the facet joints become worn. This wear varies from person to person. The discs become thinner and this causes the spaces between the vertebrae to become narrower. Also, ‘spurs’ of bone, known as osteophytes form at the edges of the vertebrae and the facet joints. In a way this is a particular form of osteoarthritis but it is known as Cervical spondylosis.
Treatment is given after assessing the function and quality of neck and joint movement. I check the muscle and fascial tension along with it’s relationship to the spine and head. I apply soft tissue massage to soften muscle tension with positional release for the fascia. I may follow this up with articulation and manipulation for joint release where necessary. I also use gentle Cranial Osteopathic techniques to rebalance the rhythmic function of the spine and cranium. Recommended exercises for correcting poor posture are also a part of treatment and consultation.