Neck Pain

Neck pain treatment

Neck pain is the second most common condition that we see at our clinic, after low back pain. Patients presenting with neck pain will often experience associated headaches, dizziness and pain or pins and needles in the shoulders or arms.

Most episodes of neck pain, like back pain, will resolve within a few days, but sometimes the pain will persist and it is in these situations manual therapy is uniquely placed to help. Osteopathic treatment has been shown to be effective for the treatment of chronic neck pain, and many people prefer to use our therapists, because treatment does not require medication and is considered a more natural approach than conventional medicine.  

Types of neck pain include:

1. Non-Specific Neck Pain

Many people develop a stiff or painful neck for no obvious reason. It may happen after sleeping awkwardly or an unusual activity like decorating or perhaps after a minor twisting injury, for example while cleaning or gardening. The underlying cause for this type of neck pain is not fully understood, so it is called 'non-specific neck pain'. Having non-specific neck pain does not mean that your neck is damaged and often it happens in people whose necks would appear completely normal under an x-ray. It is the most common type of neck pain and often disappears after a few days. If it doesn’t resolve within a couple of days it is wise to have an examination and treatment before the body begins compensating with altered posture.

2. Cervical Spondylosis

Cervical Spondylosis is the normal aging process of the spine. There are discs between the vertebra of the spine and as we get older the disks become thinner and the vertebrae move closer together. This is why we get shorter as we age. This will increase the chances of joint damage occurring as the adjacent bones impinge on one another. Also, 'spurs' of bone, known as osteophytes can form at the edges of the vertebrae and the facet joints. This is a particular form of osteoarthritis that everyone over the age of forty will have to some degree but if you stay active it really causes any problems. After a trauma, like a car accident or miss use, decorating a ceiling, the neck can be irritated and start causing pain. We see this condition every day in our clinic and with good management most patients improve and stay pain free for long periods of time. So, for anyone who has had x-rays of their necks and been told it is normal aging or wear and tear, and there is nothing that can be done, do not despair. Contact us for help.

3. Whiplash

This type of injury often follows a rear-end collision in a car. In this type of collision, first the body is carried forward and the head flips backwards. Then, as the body stops, the head is thrown forwards. Following a whiplash injury there is often a delay before the pain and stiffness start. Although whiplash can badly damage your neck, the majority of people who suffer these shunt accidents do not have major damage. In most cases injuries feel better within a few weeks or months. Seat belts and properly adjusted headrests in cars have significantly reduced the damage from whiplash injuries.

4. Tension

The body is usually very efficient at maintaining posture using the minimum of muscle effort. When these muscles are overworked, such as in poor sitting posture or when someone is worried or under stress, they often sub-consciously tighten their muscles more than is necessary to hold their head upright. The muscles become chronically tight, inefficient and shorten, and this can lead to headaches. Tension headaches are very common and are often misdiagnosed as migraines.

Osteopathic Treatment for Neck Pain

All of our osteopaths are trained to diagnose the specific issue which is causing your symptoms. However, at the ROC we will also analyse why that specific area has become injured and treat the causes, not just the symptoms.

Case Study
Jane who is a 45-year-old receptionist presented with right sided neck and shoulder pain which started 3 months ago for no particular reason. On examination it was found that she had strained a joint in her neck which was making the surrounding muscles tighten up. What was unusual was that normally this type of injury should have resolved in a week. After we had analysed her work station we found that due to her wearing varifocal glasses and her screen being too high she was repetitively extending her neck to focus. After a few adjustments of her work station and treatment to her neck and upper back her symptoms resolved.

What happens on your first appointment and how to go forward?

After a full assessment we will talk you through our findings and agree a treatment approach. The treatment will include soft tissue massage to relax the muscle tension. We may follow this up with articulation and manipulation to release joints and gentle Cranial Osteopathic techniques to rebalance the rhythmic function of the spine and cranium. In some cases acupuncture may be offered to help reduce muscle tension. Recommended exercises for correcting poor posture are also a part of treatment and consultation.

10 top tips for back and neck care

1. Take regular exercise. The fitter you are the less likely you are to get problems
2. When your back or neck aches, stand up and walk around
3. Take frequent breaks between repetitive tasks and vary the rhythm
4. Make sure your work station has been properly assessed
5. Pace yourself when the work is heavy (gardening, DIY)
6. Adjust car seats, and on long journeys have breaks and stretch
7. Watch children’s posture – don’t let them carry bags on one shoulder
8. Do not heat an injured back or neck as this will increase inflammation
9. Check your bed - is it comfortable, is it getting old? Hard beds are not best
10. Seek advice earlier rather than later

 Treatment for Neck Pain

Osteopathic Treatment


Professionalism and safety

To qualify, an osteopath must study for four to five years for an undergraduate degree with emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques.  By law, osteopaths must register with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is an offence for anyone to call themselves an osteopath if they are not registered.

  1. 1. Efficacy of spinal manipulation and mobilization for low back pain and neck pain: a systematic review and best evidence synthesis☆ Gert Bronfort, PhD, DCemail address, Mitchell Haas, DC, MA, Roni L. Evans, DC, MS, Lex M. Bouter, PhD Received 26 February 2003; accepted 2 June 2003.
Parking Information

Enter postcode for directions:

Rugby Osteopathic Centre, 69 Albert Street, Rugby
Warwickshire, CV21 2SN, Tel: 01788 560646, Fax:01788 571318
Email: reception@rugbyosteopaths.co.uk

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