Introduction to Neck Pain
Neck pain or a stiff neck is a common problem seen by Chiropractors and successfully treated without the need for medication.
Typically an onset of neck pain and or stiffness usually gets better without treatment after a few days, and is not a sign of a more serious neck problem or underlying condition. However if your pain has persisted for a few days it is a good idea to self refer yourself to the clinic to have it properly assessed. You can get a painful neck from sleeping in an awkward position, or from using a computer keyboard for a prolonged period of time, or even from being out in the cold too long all causing muscle spasms. Anxiety and stress can be a large contributor if you have had a very busy week at work or you can attribute some stressful situation which may have caused tension in your neck muscles, which can lead to pain in your neck.
Chiropractors treat neck pain on a daily basis so it is worth consulting with them over physiotherapy for neck injuries.
Types of Neck Problems
A twisted or locked neck
Some people suddenly wake up one morning to find their neck twisted to one side or locked in a position where they cant move it properly. The first thing to know that this is very common and easily treated but can be extremely disconcerting the first time it happens. This is known as acute torticollis and is caused by injury to the neck muscles and joints. Torticollis can occur after long exposure to a cold draught, or after your neck has been in an unusual position.
The facet joints of the cervical spine (neck) can become strained and irritated. This can be postural or from an injury like a car accident. Whiplash is commonly treated at the practice where the neck joints have been damaged affecting the vertebra and alignment of the neck. This is where a Chiropractor is highly trained to assess and get these joints moving again after whiplash injuries.
Nerve or bone problems in the neck
These are more serious problems in the neck usually attributed to ‘wear and tear’ that occurs to the bones and joints in your neck. This is a type of arthritis called cervical spondylosis. Cervical spondylosis does occurs naturally with age and is more common in females and those over the age of 50. However years of bad posture, repetitive manual work, weight bearing sports and or trauma can all lead to early degenerative change to your joints. Cervical spondylosis does not always cause symptoms, although in some people the bone changes can cause neck stiffness.
What usually happens is because of the warn out joints nearby nerves can be pinched, resulting in pain that radiates down the arms, pins and needles and numbness in the hands and legs.
If you are experiencing neck pain caused by a pinched nerve it is known as cervical radiculopathy or more commonly a “trapped nerve” in the neck. It can sometimes occur after your neck has been held in an awkward position, after twisting or bending your body abnormally. If your pain down your arm fails to respond to treatment and persists your Chiropractor will refer you for an MRI.
Managing neck pain at home
Whatever the cause for your neck pain or a stiff neck, the advice is generally the same. It is important to carry on with your normal daily activities, keep active avoiding bed rest movement is key keeping the neck muscle mobile to prevent further neck contractions.
-If you have had the problem for more than 6 weeks place some heat to relieve some of the muscle spasm and improve blood flow. If it is a recent injury you can use a cold pack to reduce the inflammation a very effective way without having to take anti-inflammatory drugs.
-Sleep on a low, firm pillow at night – avoid using two pillows because it may force your neck to bend unnaturally.
-Check your posture – bad posture is certainly aggravating your pain and maybe the initial cause of the problem in the first place. Your Chiropractor will teach you out how to sit correctly.
-Avoid wearing a neck collar – there is no evidence to suggest that wearing a neck collar will help to heal your neck, and it is better to keep your neck mobile.
-Have someone driving you until the pain and stiffness have subsided, turning your head to view traffic can aggravate it.
-If your neck is stiff or twisted, you will be given some simple neck exercises.
These exercises will help strengthen your neck muscles and improve your range of movement.
Treatment at Sykes Verwey Centre
Freddie Powell (Chiropractor) will assess you and take a detailed case history to see all the contributing factors for your neck pain.
Treatment will usually consist of neck adjustments to the “locked” or “restricted” joints in the neck this can be associated with a cracking noise which is just gas releasing within that restricted joint capsule. Other techniques will include distraction to take some pressure off the nerves. A lot of work on the musculature including trigger point therapy where the muscles have gone into spasms and formed “knots” in the neck and shoulders. Gentle stretching techniques maybe be used with some home exercises to strengthen the neck and prevent a reoccurrence.
You will have an ergonomic set up, and strict instructions on how to sit properly and why your neck is becoming painful at work. This will again help potential future relapses.
THE SYKES VERWEY CENTRE IS THE LEADING CHIROPRACTIC AND SPORTS INJURY CLINIC IN DEVON.
Why not get in touch and see how we can help you.