Most of us experience neck pain at some point in our lives. Many people work jobs that require them to crane their necks all day to look up or down at computer screens, and the result can be a severely sore neck! Neck pain can be especially debilitating and uncomfortable when it starts to affect your daily life and activities.
It’s common for neck pain to extend down into your shoulders as well, which causes more discomfort.
Symptoms of Neck Pain
Neck pain typically runs from the base of the skull to the top of the shoulder blade, and finally settles in the back of the neck. Pain levels can vary in severity, from a persistent, dull ache to sharp and stabbing pains.
What can cause neck pain
Typically, a minor injury to spinal joint structures (ligament, joint capsule) or muscle tissues in the neck is what causes neck pain; however, there are specific degenerative conditions that lead to neck pain as well. A few common problems that can result in neck pain include:
Degeneration of joints
Neck joints can erode with age, similar to any other joint in your body. This results in moderate to severe pain. Other pain conditions such as osteoarthritis can also reduce the amount of healthy cartilage between the vertebrae in the neck.
There are many illnesses and diseases that can result in feeling pain in your neck. Two common ones are meningitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The muscles in your neck can become strained by overuse. Even something as mundane as sitting at your desk all day with your neck craned toward the computer screen can lead to a strain in your neck muscles.
Injuries from auto accidents
One of the most common injuries that result in neck pain is whiplash. Whiplash is typically sustained by an automobile or high-impact sports collision. This is known as a “strain” injury, causing the head to whip rapidly back-and-forth, thus affecting the soft tissues in the back of the neck.
Compression of nerves
If you have a herniated disc in your neck, or narrowing of the foramen (space where the nerves exit the spine), the nerves that branch out from your spinal cord can become compressed. In some cases, nerve pain can cause a condition known as “radiculopathy”, where the pain will radiate from the neck all the way down to the hands and fingers.
HOW OSTEOPATHY CAN HELP?
Your Osteopath will conduct a comprehensive physical evaluation and study the range of motion in your neck, as well as any restrictions you have due to your pain. Your therapist will then be able to offer a diagnosis that will determine what your treatment plan consists of. You will work together to understand the goals and expectations of each step in your individualized treatment plan, with the main focus being overcoming neck pain and prevent future recurring episodes.
Typical Neck pain treatment may include manual, or “hands-on” therapy, which consists of special techniques designed to reduce the stiffness of your neck and improve its range of motion. Your Osteopath will also recommend targeted exercises that will strengthen, build, and improve the muscles and tissues in your neck.
Therapy will focus on improving your posture to speed up recovery of your neck muscles, as well as avoiding re-injury in the future. Some treatment plans may include ice and heat therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation, depending on your condition.
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