Neck Pain

The Cause of Neck Pain and How To Ease Neck Pain

Here is some know-how from our expert osteopaths of one of the most common concerns of the neck.

Suffering from pain in your neck? It can be a pinch or a more sudden shooting or stabbing kind of sensation. Let me tell you that you are not the only one having neck pain. Every two out of three of us has had neck pain at sometime of our lives. Here is some know-how from our expert osteopaths of one of the most common concerns of the neck.

Structure of your neck:

  • There are seven vertebrae which form the bony building blocks of the spine in the neck (also called the cervical vertebrae) surrounding the spinal cord and canal.
  • Between these vertebrae are discs and the nerves of the neck.
  • Within the neck, structures include the skin, neck muscles, arteries, veins, lymph nodes, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, oesophagus, larynx, and trachea.

Diseases or conditions that affect any of these tissues of the neck can lead to neck pain. Neck pain can also be referred to as cervical pain.

Symptoms of Neck Pain:

Neck pain is commonly associated with dull aching. Sometimes pain in the neck is worsened with moving your neck or turning your head.

Other symptoms associated with neck pain include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Tenderness
  • Sharp shooting pain
  • Fullness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pulsations
  • Swishing sounds in the head
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Lymph node (gland) swelling

Neck pain can also be associated with headache, facial pain, shoulder pain, and arm numbness or tingling (upper extremity paresthesias). These associated symptoms are often a result of nerves becoming pinched in the neck.

Depending on the condition, sometimes neck pain is accompanied by upper back and/or lower back pain, as is common in inflammation of the spine from ankylosing spondylitis but it is important to get yourself checked out by a qualified osteopath before worrying about the possibility of any other more serious causes.

Causes of Neck Pain:

Pain in the neck is a common medical condition. Neck pain can come from a number of disorders and diseases and can involve any of the tissues in the neck.

Examples of common conditions causing neck pain are:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Neck strain
  • Neck injury such as in whiplash, a herniated disc, or a pinched nerve
  • Virus infection of the throat, leading to lymph node (gland) swelling and neck pain
  • Improper Sitting Posture
  • Using Multiple pillows or sleeping on your stomach
  • Emotional Stress
  • Involvement in contact sports such as rugby ( or even netball?!)
  • Whiplash (common after a road accident)

Neck pain can also come from rare infections such as:

  • Tuberculosis of the neck
  • Infection of the spine bones in the neck (osteomyelitis and septic discitis)
  • Meningitis (often accompanied by neck stiffness)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Polymyalgia rheumatic

Call an Osteopath:

Calling your osteopath is the most suggested solution for neck pain. Your osteopath will usually be able to diagnose a minor neck pain from the description of the pain, and by examining you. Therefore, in most cases, no tests like X-Ray, CAT scan, MRI, etc. are needed.

An osteopaths assessment and examination can usually determine that a bout of neck pain is nonspecific and not due to a more serious cause. The following are the sort of symptoms that may indicate a more serious problem:

  • If the pain becomes progressively worse
  • If some function of an arm is affected. For example, weakness or clumsiness of a hand or arm, or numbness
  • If you regularly feel unwell and have symptoms such as weight loss or fever
  • If the neck bones are very tender
  • If you develop any problem while walking or with passing urine. This may indicate problems with pressure on the spinal cord
  • If neck pain develops when you have any other problem such as rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS, or cancer

Treatment options for Neck Pain:

The treatment of neck pain depends on its precise cause. Treatment options include:

  • Gently moving your head and neck in the pain-free range
  • A good posture while sitting and standing (Most times of the day)
  • Applying cold to the neck (e.g. applying frozen peas or an ice pack on the pain area) – heat is generally avoided unless it is only a muscle causing the pain
  • Osteopathy
  • Massage
  • Pain killers and anti-inflammatories (over the counter)
  • Topical anaesthetic creams
  • Topical pain-relief patches
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Neck pain relief exercises and stretches
  • Neck pillows for sleep
  • Acupuncture

These are few remedies that can be tried out to cure your neck pain. Neck pain is also sometimes associated with anxiety and depression which may need to be treated as well.

If you have any questions about your neck pain, please get in touch as we are always happy to help!