There are many causes for neck pain and headaches, namely Whiplash, Cervical Spondylosis, tension, jaw pain or ‘non-specific neck pain’. At the clinic I have treated all types all with favourable results. There is no need for X-rays or MRI scans to receive treatment.
Non-Specific Neck Pain
Many people, of all ages develop a stiff and painful neck with no obvious cause or reason. The underlying cause for this type of neck pain is not fully understood, so it is called ‘non-specific neck pain’. It may happen after sleeping or sitting awkwardly, for example sitting at a computer or using a mobile device for long periods or after a minor twisting injury, for example cleaning or gardening. There is usually no damage to your neck and the pain often resolves after a few days. If it doesn’t clear up within a few days it is wise to have an examination and receive treatment before your body begins compensating with altered posture and causing discomfort elsewhere too.
Whiplash or Whiplash type injuries/strains
This advice is to be taken once you have been cleared of any serious injury, usually by x-ray or MRI. Whiplash type injuries (forced flexed/extension injury) can leave a legacy in your neck muscles and joints if not dealt with correctly in the first instance.
Most whiplash injuries are not serious; there is usually no damage to bones, discs or nerves in the spine. As well as causing neck pain, some people also get low back pain (whiplash in your lumbar spine). It is not uncommon to get headaches after whiplash from tension in the neck. Some people get other symptoms such as arm or jaw pain, or dizziness.
The ‘old fashioned’ treatment for whiplash was rest and immobilisation – usually wearing a collar for months. BUT, it has been accepted that rest is actually the worst possible treatment because in the long term it prolongs the pain – you get stiff, your muscles get weak (because they are not being used), you lose physical fitness (you can’t exercise because you feel it will damage your neck), you get depressed (because you can’t be active) and the pain feels worse and you find it harder and harder to get going again.
Saying this, a few days of rest and limited movement is sensible. The most important thing is to get moving and get active again as soon as you can. Even when you are sore, you can make a start without putting too much stress on your neck. There are many forms of exercises that can help whiplash.
Many doctors now agree that Osteopathic manipulation or mobilisation can help recover from whiplash. It depends on how long you leave it to how many sessions you may need – everybody is different and response to treatment is individual.
Cervical Spondylosis (wear & tear of the discs and joints in your neck)
The Cervical vertebrae are the vertebrae in your neck. As you age, so do your joints and degeneration starts (as with all your joints). If you have degeneration in your spinal joints it is called Spondylosis. This is most commonly seen in the elderly (60+ years), however it is not unheard of in people as young as 30 years old, however this is more likely due to earlier trauma leading to early Spondylosis. Osteopathy can not reverse the degenerative changes but it can help relieve the associated joint stiffness and muscle tightness. If Spondylosis is advanced then Osteophytes (bony outgrowths on the edges of the degenerating bone) may develop and these can compress on the neurovascular bundle (nerves and blood vessels) between your vertebrae causing ‘pins & needles’ or pain into your arms.
Again, osteopathy can not get rid of the osteophytes but osteopathic soft tissue and articulation techniques may help relieve some pressure on the neurovascular bundle to restore normal sensation to your arm.
Headaches come in many ‘shapes and forms’ with many different causes, namely neurological, vascular, hormonal or musculoskeletal. Osteopathy can help with musculoskeletal causes – the most common of which is neck tension and upper back (Thoracic Spin) tension – these areas are where we tend to ‘hold’ our day to day stress… hence this whole area becomes tense without you realising it.
Osteopathic manipulation, articulation and soft tissue techniques can make a big difference to headaches caused by neck or shoulder tension.
Jaw Pain / Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain
Jaw pain may follow dental work – due to the sustained position of your jaw whilst you politely ‘open wide’ so you don’t take a chunk out of the dentist’s finger. This puts great strain on your jaw muscles, ligaments and the joint itself. Jaw stiffness may also be the cause of recurrent headaches. Another common cause of jaw pain is bruxism (grinding your teeth), or just clenching your teeth during stressful situations or events. People often do this in their sleep and therefore don’t realise they do it and therefore don’t associate a headache, neck tension or jaw ache with teeth grinding. Osteopathic techniques are very effective when treating TMJ dysfunction.
020 8530 8029/07808928066 or email me on Tammy@aspireosteopathy.co.uk
Geoffrey Lloyd Foulkes Clinic