Neck Pain (Rye Neck)
Treatment approaches to Relieve Pain, increase Range of Movement and Maintain wellness
Neck pain can strike at any time. Often it is felt upon waking up in the morning with a sharp pain in the neck and with a limited range of movement. This condition is known as wry neck and is severely limiting. Neck pain must be one of the most commonly seen conditions in my clinic. I treat it daily, and it manifests in very unique ways for every client.
It is common to suffer strong neck pain due to the simplest of wrong movements, as when carrying out an unusual task like looking up under the sink, or simply after being exposed to some wind.
Stress plays a major part in the manifestation of neck pain. Sitting too long on the computer or the phone can also be a cause. Neck pain commonly manifests after whiplash caused by a car accident, or even if you momentarily trip. Many clients simply wake up with a sore neck, and these conditions can be very debilitating, irritating and just so inconvenient, as they may last for days at a time.
Neck pain can present locally at the neck tissue, on the back, sides of the neck, or both. Both neck pain and shoulder pain generally present together, and at times pain tends to radiate to the arms, or even down to the fingers. It is important to note that when pain radiates to the arms or hands, there is a significant chance that nerves up at the neck are being impinged upon by the cervical vertebras or by local soft tissue, causing a radiating sensation, tingling or numbness to be present in the upper limbs or hands. The different areas of referred pain to the arms or hands often gives the practitioner enough information to discern the specific spinal level involved. At times it is necessary for the practitioner to refer you on for scans, especially after car accidents, traumas or in some conditions where long-standing arthritic conditions change their manifestation all of a sudden.
Neck pain treatments take many forms. It is particularly safe to use acupuncture, especially the distant acupuncture methods. These aim at reducing the pain and increase your neck's range of movement rather quickly. The faster your pain is under control and range of movement restored, the faster the recovery from the condition. Acupuncture points may be applied to your ankle or wrist, often with very quick and effective results in reducing pain.
Other techniques may involve deep tissue therapy, massage, stretching techniques, cupping and pressure point therapy directly on the affected area. With conditions of radiating pain, once properly diagnosed, MET (Muscle Energy Techniques) may be used. These series of techniques entail placing the neck in various positions and asking the patient to resist in the opposite direction. Also known as PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) exercises, the main goal is to increase the range of movement and unlock deep spasms of the neck where massage fingers just cannot reach. MET and PNF approaches are very effective with many manifestations where pain radiates to the upper limbs and/or the hands.
Often a series of stretching, postural and strengthening exercises are prescribed after the session. These assist you to overcome your neck spasm more efficiently and ensures that all the work carried out in the clinic is preserved as well as possible for the follow-up session. Whether only one treatment or a series of sessions are required, exercises ensure a more rapid improvement and better maintenance of the condition.
In today's stressful work environment, static work conditions, computer and phone screen use, it isn't surprising that neck pain is so often presented at the clinic. I recommend a regular routine of stretches and mobilization techniques to not only correct a wry neck but, more importantly, for such exercises to be used daily to prevent neck pain from emerging in the first place. As always is the case, prevention is better than cure.