As a Southend Osteopath neck pain is one of the conditions that I am often called upon to treat. Many people in all walks of life and at any age can suffer from neck pain. As with any problem connected with the spine there are different ways under which it can be categorised but with neck pain it is probably simplest to divide it into acute neck pain and chronic neck pain.
Acute Neck Pain
Acute neck pain is the sudden onset of severe pain in the neck normally extremely painful with loss of movement of the neck and head and frequently associated with pain in the area between the shoulder blades or shoulders.
This pain is more commonly one sided, although there may be some spread of symptoms across the mid-line, and often has a definite if often trivial cause of onset. This is the type of pain that we can wake up with in the morning or frequently after a sharp turn of the head or sudden reaching out with an arm as when switching off the alarm clock!
In most cases this type of injury settles spontaneously within a few hours but in some cases it may persist for up to a week, may subside to a chronic ache with restriction of movement remaining or may develop further symptoms such as headaches or pain radiating into an arm.
Obviously where the symptoms settle rapidly there is no real need for treatment as the bulk of the pain and restriction is due to local muscle spasm and if this settles rapidly then it is likely that the underlying cause has also settled. However should the symptoms persist or worsen it is probably advisable to seek help as in many cases acute neck pain will progress to chronic neck pain or develop associated problems such as nerve root pressure.
Chronic Neck Pain
This is one of the developments of acute neck pain but can develop as a chronic ache leading to acute neck pain. In chronic neck pain there is a continuous level of restriction and tension in the muscles and joints of the neck which can give rise to pain. This restriction can in turn cause acute strains of other neck joints to trigger an acute episode or can in itself by developing muscle contraction give rise to nerve root pressure symptoms.
The most common cause of chronic neck pain is degenerative change in the intervertebral joints of the neck but it is worth noting that whilst it is probably normal for everybody over 50 to have some degree of wear and tear in their necks, referred to as Cervical Spondylosis, it is only a small minority that have significant symptoms. It is normally secondary problems similar to the acute neck pain injury that actually give rise to the symptoms and these of course can be treated.
There are several other possible causes of chronic neck pain but few of these are related to organic problems apart from occasionally patients with severe hypertension may present with neck ache.
Postural problems are a very common cause of neck pain especially in the elderly where the developing forward bending so common in old people puts strain into the neck as they endeavour to hold their head up this can be helped and the pain alleviated. It is also very common for younger people to suffer postural neck pain due to poor standing postures. A common example of this is seen in early teenage girls, if they grow taller than their peers or develop their figures earlier they tend to stand in such a way as to hide these facts. Have a look at the bus queue outside your local secondary school and you will see them all standing with their hands in front of them, their heads down and often long hair pulled forward as a curtain.
Generally it is possible to help chronic neck pain and probably in the last example it is very important to do so as the postural habits if not corrected may give rise to more serious problems in the future.
Here is a short video that shows how osteopathy can help with neck pain.
I hope you have found this article useful. If you suffer from neck pain then call me on 01702 348221 for free, friendly advice.