Neck pain can be quite common, ranging from aches and pains after sleeping awkwardly, work and lifestyle postures and positions, stress and repetitive strain. Sometimes neck pain goes away by itself, but for those where it lingers or is very painful and restricting your movement, osteopathic analysis, advice and treatment can be really effective at getting you back to normal function again reducing symptoms quicker and preventing further future discomfort.
The type of neck pain we tend to see and treat is those that include pain from the joints of the neck, or the soft tissues of the neck including the muscles, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Very often neck pain is caused by muscles spasming or tensing from the upper back and shoulders, and so treatment is aimed at the neck itself but also at the surrounding areas to reduce pain, tension and improve any restricted movement.
Within your appointment we will ask questions about the onset and relevant history leading up to the neck pain so that we can establish which structures are involved. Sometimes it is necessary to check your reflexes and power concerning the nerves that come from the neck into the arms and refer you to your GP or treat depending on the findings.
Treatment is very gentle and respectful of you and your neck. Treatment may include gentle, effective stretching, massage and mobilising of the joints and soft tissues, alongside addressing contributing factors and other body areas, which can range from shoulders to the spine or pelvis.
There’s lots you can do at home to help the health of your neck structures, such as keeping fit, active and mobile, stretching, reducing stints of sitting time and awkward postures and positions for the neck, sleeping well and looking at sleep positions and pillows, stress and lifestyle, occupation, etc. Lots of small changes can be addressed to help the neck, whether it is a long-term problem or something you woke up with this morning.
The shoulder can be referred to as the top of the arm to the upper back, lower neck and into the upper chest. The shoulder is a very adaptable part of the body enabling us to use our hands for limitless activities, they are constantly at work; tensing through the day with activity, held differently depending on our mood and energy levels, and only really rest when they are held recumbent. The shoulder is a collection of four joints and involve many muscles from the arm, neck, upper back and chest. There is normally more than one factor that leads us to have unexplained shoulder pain, and osteopathic assessment aims to help you discover why you have symptoms and what can be done to help.
Shoulder pain can become more common from our 30’s and 40’s onward, particularly with health changes, posture of the neck and upper back, stress, repetitive work; particularly overhead or outstretched building up strain and tension in the shoulder region. Common types of shoulder pain can affect the joints of the shoulder or soft tissues including muscle, ligaments, capsule, cartilage nerves and bursae. Certain repetitive motions such as; actions above head, typing, lifting, manual work, holding loads for long periods of time can all ‘prime’ the shoulder for high tension leading to prolonged aches and muscle fatigue, or even eventual damage to the small muscles of the shoulder, which may go noticed or unnoticed but can also be extremely painful and effect your day to day life.
The shoulder can also be vulnerable to emotional and physical stresses and muscular build up of tension causing a burning muscle pain when it is used and making it difficult to relax. This muscular tension can readily be remedied with skilled hands on treatment to the shoulder and upper back and neck, alongside lots of advice about how you are using your body and how to prevent it coming back so strongly.
In some cases, the pain in the shoulder may not be caused by a structure in the shoulder at all. The liver, diaphragm, nerves from the neck and back and ribs have shared nerve pathways with the shoulder or supply the skin of the shoulder and can refer pain that is felt in the shoulder but that is not coming directly from the shoulder. With examination we can work out whether the shoulder pain is caused by a local structure or whether it is referred pain. Treatment of the shoulder depends on what is causing your symptoms. For example, if there is a postural element we can advise you with this and make sure that your body can move in ways to help remedy this as far as possible. Id there is tension in the local muscles, we work out why, and advise you about how to reduce this, as well as using hands on treatment to reduce tension in the local area and beyond if necessary. Hands on techniques may include stretches, joint mobility work, soft tissue work and relaxation techniques.