Neck pain can come out of nowhere, and even a cricked neck that develops overnight can sometimes stick around for longer than anticipated. Your osteopath can help you to manage these episodes, and help you with those aches and pains that keep coming back.
Causes of Neck Pain
Like the lower back, there are a number of potential causes for any one case of neck pain. Your osteopath will use your history and their observations to determine the likely cause (or combination) that is causing your symptoms.
Neck pain can be caused by an irritated joint. For more acute episodes of pain, this might be due to simple stiffness or irritation of a neck joint. In more chronic cases, this irritation might be due to arthritis. In either case we want to improve movement. These things don’t always happen in isolation, so we will look at other local areas to see if there’s another joint that’s underworking and causing this irritation.
If the pain is caused by arthritis, it’s not necessarily a cause for panic. Early stage arthritis is very manageable, as improving movement encourages the cartilage to heal. We can help support you here, developing a long term plan and exercises to keep you going.
Muscles can become sore if the demands placed on them are more than they can cope with. This often happens when we hold a position for too long, such as sleeping in an awkward position, or sitting at a desk where your main screen is off to one side. You can reduce your risk of muscular neck pain by making sure your pillows, desk, and car seat are set up well. We can help advise you here if you are unsure.
Muscular pain responds well to heat and rest, and may feel worse at the end of the day. It can track up into the base of the head and lead to headaches, or it can pull into the shoulders and upper back. It’s typically a dull pain.
Pain that shoots, particularly if it travels into the arm, might be caused by a nerve. Sometimes this will be caused by a bulging disc, but this is not always the case. Tight muscles can also cause pins and needles, numbness, weakness, or pain locally or further down the course of the nerve. If the disc is the root cause, then pain might be worsened by bending your neck forwards, or compression through the neck itself.
The location of your symptoms will give an idea of which nerve might be affected. Although nerve pain can sound scary, it doesn’t often last for too long.
Managing Neck Pain with Osteopathy
Your osteopath will work to determine what has led to your pain. They will then work out a plan to address the factors that play a role. Advice and exercises can make a huge difference in the progress made between appointments, so you will be given advice specifically tailored for you. You can also expect to leave with a diagnosis that makes sense to you, and a rough idea of how long it will take to improve.