X-rays and MRI scans can detect serious neck injuries however they don’t usually help in ordinary neck pain
They may even be misleading and show ‘degeneration’ or ‘spondylotic change’ which is normal wear and tear. However this explanation will not change your symptoms. We would aim to improve the function of your upper back, ribs and shoulders to reduce the demand on your neck and thus allow the episode of irritation to subside.
Whiplash can cause more than just neck pain
Your body absorbs a lot of force from the impact of the accident and this may develop in areas such as your low back, ribs and shoulders. This is normal and is not serious. However, the pain can be quite bad and stop you from moving normally. A visit to the practice soon after the incident allows us to assess the level of damage and prevent any unnecessary build up of pain and muscle spasm, allowing you to get back to your usual routine more quickly.
Often symptoms take their time to develop
Most people only develop symptoms a day or two after the incident. That is a good sign. It means the damage to your neck is not serious. The ‘soft-tissue’ elements will have been strained (muscles, ligaments etc) and may take several weeks to resolve, but there will be no lasting damage.
It is common to get headaches after whiplash, as well as arm pain and tingling
These symptoms are common and can be a distressing side-effect of the whiplash. By releasing muscle spasm and calming the joint irritation we can quickly ease these symptoms. Anxiety and stress will also make these symptoms worse which makes getting the right diagnosis quickly all the more important.
A lot of pain felt from a migraine comes from the neck
Most people think of migraines as running in the family and that only pills can ease the symptoms and side-effects of a migraine. Fortunately, this is not true. Genetic factors play a large role, as does a lack or routine (having lie-ins, not sleeping at the same time each night) but a huge part of the pain and ‘wiped-out’ feeling we get is due to the muscles in the neck tightening as a reaction to the migraine.
The migraine causes irritation in the nerves to the head and neck, which causes tension and irritation in the joints and muscles of the neck, which causes more pain. A nasty ‘vicious’ cycle occurs that is difficult to break.
By reducing the amount of tension in these ‘irritated’ muscles and gently manipulating the neck joints, we can begin to break this vicious cycle and over-ride the nerve irritation and lessen your pain.With a short course of treatment to break this cycle, and help remove unresolved neck strains, your migraines will be far less intense and much less frequent. Most patients feel that they can cope with mild pain killers and their migraines rarely occur and not weekly or daily.
What are the symptoms of a tension headache?
Tension-type headache pain is often described as a constant pressure, as if the head were being squeezed in a vice. The pain frequently presents on both sides of the head at once. In contrast to migraine, the pain does not increase during exercise.
Tension headaches are derived from muscle spasms in the neck and joint irritations which often come about from sustained work postures. Even an ache or problem in our lower back can lead us to sit differently so that we compensate through the neck and get a tension headache as a result.
We use a ‘hands-on’ approach in our treatment of your problem. We will reduce the muscle spasms and gently mobilise the joints of the neck and upper back. The upper back is often a stiff area which then causes the neck to over work. Our treatment will include advice on posture and prevention of further episodes.