Neck pain is one of the most common reasons for patients to seek our help. Whether this is something you have coped with for a long time or something you woke up with this morning, we are confident we can help you find a long term solution. In this article we will discuss:
- What causes neck pain
- What is upper crossed syndrome
- How can I strengthen my neck
- Can chiropractic treatment help neck pain
If you are dealing with neck pain at the moment, find out how we can help:
What causes neck pain
One of the most common causes of neck pain that we see in clinic is due to poor posture. Most notable is upper crossed syndrome which we will discuss in just a moment. Put simply, holding yourself in a prolonged poor posture can cause some muscles to tighten up and others to weaken. In itself, this will not cause pain but over a long period of time the tight muscle can cause pain, the awkward position can cause joints to become stiff and cause pain as well.
Sometimes, we have patients who come to see us explaining they just woke up with pain in the neck, perhaps saying that they "slept funny". Sometimes we can move around in bed and find ourselves in some pretty strange positions. Just like the poor posture mentioned before, these positions can put joints and muscles under prolonged tension that in itself might cause immediate pain but when you wake up and move, then you will feel it.
Our final common cause of neck pain is whiplash. Clinically we will refer to this as Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD) as whiplash refers to the mechanism of injury not the painful condition itself. Most of us are aware of people suffering with whiplash after car accidents. We have seen it caused by so many different situations, car accidents, falling over without hitting your head, taking a tackle in a team sport. Whatever you think caused your whiplash, do not worry, you are not alone. Whiplash is a sudden "flexion/extension" movement, meaning that your neck moves one way and then quickly moves in the opposite direction. This combination causes an intial reflexive reaction of muscles to protect your neck but when your neck moves in the opposite direction your muscles are actually helping it move this direction so it goes further, you then get another reflexive reaction against this second violent movement. Often we are left with tight, possibly strained muscles, a reluctance to move the neck due to pain and over time tighter and tighter muscles leading to stiff joints.
What is upper crossed syndrome
Upper crossed posture/syndrome is a common poor postural position. You might recognise this in yourself, most of us will hold this posture at some time or another. We have forward head carriage and rounded shoulders. This leads to extension in the neck and flexion in the upper back. In this posture we end up with tight pectoralis, upper trapezius and suboccipital muscles, we also end up after time with weak deep neck flexors, postural muscles in the neck, and weak lower trapezius muscles. This combination makes it increasingly difficult for us to correct our posture ourselves without significant conscious effort.
Some people swear by posture braces to help correct this. Whilst these have their place, in our opinion they become a crutch you cannot do without fairly quickly. And we do not really like reliance on anything. If we can relax the tight muscles, strengthen the weak muscles and concentrate on holding better posture for at least some of the time, over time, you can fix this yourself, or with a little help.
How can I increase my neck strength
One of the most simple ways you can imprvoe your neck strength is to consciously focus on some better posture. Your head should sit quite comfortably on top of your neck and not be craning forwards. The further forward your head on your neck, the harder your primary mover muscles have to work and the less your deep postural muscles work.
Consider simply sitting, rolling your shoulders back and drawing your chin gently backwards. After a little practise, you may find this position feels a bit more normal and gradually you will naturally adopt a better posture.
If this doesn't help or you need better neck strength for another reason like a particular sport, you may need some more specific exercises. With a tailored training program and exercises specific for your weaknesses your neck can happily regain it's former strength.
Can chiropractic treatment help neck pain
Absolutely. There is good evidence to support this and it is something we deal with all the time in clinic. Our first step is to identify which muscles and joints are causing problems and start to calm them down with appropriate soft tissue work and spinal manipulation. Once calmed down and in less pain, we can identify the probable cause and help you overcome it.
We have seen some truly dramatic reduction in symptoms in clinic since we have been open and we are confident we can help you too.
Contact us on 01264 527001 to discuss your particular problem or head to our online booking page to find a suitable time now: