When you come in with neck pain into my Kensington based West London Osteopathy clinic, I will have to ask you a lot of questions. Why do I do this? The main reason is to determine if your neck pain is ‘mechanical’ neck pain or if your discomfort is caused by some other kind of issue.
Mechanical neck pain is the most common type, and it can be described as pinching, sharp, dull, stabbing, nerve type pain – in other words a large variety of kinds of pain can be felt from the physical structures in your neck.
What causes neck pain?
One of the most common causes of neck pain is referred to as a ‘crick’. This is often a spasm of the deep neck muscles caused by a joint irritation. Reducing the spasm and easing off the irritated joint, alongside some desensitization techniques, is very helpful in helping these resolve a bit quicker than they would on their own.
Muscle strains in the neck often develop as a result of turning the head rapidly. They are also often caused by impacts where the head is shaken – such as in high velocity impacts of the body or the head. These events don’t have to be car accidents – any kind of fall can cause these strains.
A lot of muscular pain can be caused by holding awkward sustained postures as well. Very commonly, people who work overhead can develop extremely painful and tense necks and shoulders.
And, we all know what it is like to wake up that awful pinching feeling that sometimes radiates down into the shoulder or upper back.
There is no evidence supporting one posture over another, however not changing our postures can cause pain from a lack of movement. Very commonly this affects the muscles of the neck at the base of the skull and causes pain and tension across the tops of the shoulders. It can also lead to headaches.
This kind of pain is usually resolved by simply moving more and avoiding staying in any one posture.
What if it is not mechanical?
Most neck pain is mechanical and relatively straightforward. There are some kinds of neck pain that are more serious, however, and so you should always get neck pain checked out. It’s important to be sure your neck pain isn’t of a type that needs another opinion from a different kind of medical professional.
But, If more serious causes are ruled out, most mechanical neck problems are easy to resolve within a few days with a little bit of gentle treatment, exercise, and pain desensitisation techniques – alongside sound gentle self-care advice. If your neck pain is chronic or longstanding, there are even more techniques I can do to help you with.