WHAT IS NECK PAIN?
Neck pain can vary from a 'stiff neck' to pain shooting down from the neck to the shoulder and arm.
Neck pain is highly associated with postural strain. Using a computer can put a strain on the neck and tops of the shoulders. The body is not designed for keeping still. Instead, the muscles and joints are designed for movement. Sitting in one position at your desk all day is actually more work for your body than moving. As we work on computers in front of us, chins and shoulders tend to move towards the screen. This places strain on the muscles of the neck and shoulders. The body tends to cope with poor and sustained posture rather than complain about it immediately and so it is not until weeks, months or even years later that symptoms start to develop.
Whiplash injuries are more and more common and we treat people with these regularly. Whiplash may come from accidents, sports or abuse and should be treated at the earliest opportunity. The forces involved as the head is thrown back can sprain the ligament at the front of the neck. When the neck is then thrown forward, the ligaments at the back of the neck are sprained. Muscles are also damaged, and respond with painful spasm also splinting the area. Signs and symptoms may not come on until 2 - 3 days after the accident due to the adrenaline that is released at the time of the shock.
Massage is needed once the acute stage is past to improve the circulation so that the metabolic chemicals the body is producing can be moved on.
When necks are not moving properly, nerves are often affected. It is common for people to complain of tingling or numbness in the fingers or one specific finger. Pain may also go down the arm.
Small joints at the side of the spine known as facet joints often cause a problem. Indeed, they can often react like a sprained ankle after a quick, unexpected movement. A reflex action follows, where muscles respond by contracting quickly to protect the area to prevent further injury. These tight muscles then become painful because there is reduced blood flow, and toxins such as lactic acid build up. This can lead to swelling, and often restricted and painful movement in the area affected. It can also affect other areas more distant. Like the ankle, all of these structures can heal with treatment, and pain is usually reduced after one session. Once you start moving your neck without so much pain, the healing speeds up due to the movements encouraging waste products back into the circulation.
Neck Pain can be excruciating as there is not a lot of space for swelling and inflammation in these and also the other joints that are there to prevent slippage into the spinal cord.
A lot can be done - you don't have to 'learn to live with it'.
As most neck pain comes from facet joint lesions, they are best treated in many cases, with osteopathy. Working on the muscles with Remedial Massage is recommended not only when there is pain, but also as a prevention.
- Advanced Remedial Massage - Shoulder & Neck Pain by Katy Master DARM RMT IHM DSM SMTO CNHC
- Remedial & Sports Massage - Neck Pain by Donald Budge BSc DARM RMT CST SMTO
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