Neck Pain

The neck is central to our modern lifestyles. There are a few different problems which can affect it.

There are a great variety of conditions which can affect the mechanics of the neck. The most common ones are joints, muscles, discs and ligaments. The neck is the top end of the spine. Quite often there is a problem in another part of the spine which leads to the neck trying to compensate. Although the pain is local in the neck the mechanics of other regions are really to blame in those situations. Many of your neck muscles actually begin much lower down in your shoulders and mid back.

The simplest local issues we see are when neck muscles are being made to do things they are not built for. Such as holding your head in an awkward posture when sitting at your computer. Other more serious injuries can actually create more long standing issues. For example whiplash can cause ligament damage which can leave longer term laxity in them. This will then lead to state of relative instability and the muscles in the neck will tighten to try and compensate. Through appropriate exercise prescription and treatment we can help create stability again and remove the whiplash damage. Not all whiplash damage is severe, sometimes just the muscles get a bit irritated and try to protect the neck from the sudden jolt. Another type of problem is when a disc begins to degenerate, everytime you move your head there will be a fraction of a millimeter more movement than there should be and your muscles will tighten creating a similar pain pattern to whiplash. A loss of disc height will also lead to more pressure on your neck joints which will then be far more sensitive to both movement and static postures. With a severe disc problem you will feel pain radiating down your arm - but other less severe neck problems can cause this too. Depending on the severity of the issue present, it may take more or less time to take care of the problem. Structural osteopathy is very well equipped to help with such issues and in cases where we aren't making the desired progress we will recommend X-rays..

We have all heard that word 'stress'. Quite a few of us feel that stress is a necessary part of life, others hate it. In either case, at some stage in our lives we all suffer from it. What many of us don't realise is how far reaching and severe the consequences of medium to long term stress can be. One such consequence is neck stiffness and associated headaches which come for no mechanical reason. Because stress is a multifaceted problem, osteopathy can help ease it and its symptoms, but we may need to address other aspects of it too.

Generally neck pain which comes from stress will be reasonably clear to you. Whenever you have a long day at work the neck pain will be worse. Generally your sleep patterns may be lighter or disturbed in comparison to quieter periods in your life. Also anti-inflammatories or pain killers will not have much of an effect on the neck pain. Osteopathically we can ease some degree of your stress and sleep disturbance through cranial work and we can definitely make a significant change to your neck pain. At the same time we will show you some stretches and stress relief techniques which can help ease the symptoms. Exercise can also be a great help, but it is important to choose the appropriate one which won't lead to worse symptoms. We can help you find that too.

The upper abdomen can have a large role to play in neck dysfunction. The big breathing muscle - called your diaphragm - which runs along the base of your ribs, when tight, can bend you forward very subtly. This means that you then have to tilt your head back and therefore begin to compress the neck by no fault of its own. In these instances breathing mechanics are very important and through treatment we can help. We would also show you some helpful breathing exercises which would speed up the positive result. Upper digestive problems can also cause diaphragm irritation and lead to neck pain. So the causes can be many, but rest assured - in osteopathy, there is a solution for all of them.

Poor breathing mechanics are the easiest to correct so long as you are willing to participate with doing some exercises for it. The upper digestive system can also irritate even the healthiest of diaphragms. For example reflux, hiatus hernias, or any stomach, gallbladder or liver irritation taking place will lead to diaphragm tightness. In such cases we can relieve the mechanical movement between the organs, but if the original cause for such problems isn't addressed, the results will only be temporary. In cases where dietary advice or a visit to your GP or a specialist are necessary, we will refer you appropriately.

Stress can also be a big influence on diaphragm tightness. There is a big nerve bundle nestled right under the diaphragm. It 'runs' the organs in your upper abdomen - most importantly it 'runs' your adrenal glands. So when you are stressed this nerve bundle gets busy and becomes sensitive. As a result when you breathe, your diaphragm doesn't want to push against it and you take shallower breathes gradually without realising it. In such cases cranial osteopathy can help with easing the effects of stress, but you may also need additional methods of stress relief. We would discuss this with you if needed and help you find an appropriate solution.

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