Osteopathy for Head and Neck Pain

Problems with your head and neck can be the cause of all sorts or trouble that can lead to disturbed sleep, lack of appetite, withdrawal from society etc..

By explaining and treating the cause behind your symptoms we can speed up your recovery back to health.

Neck pain is common but can cause more than just a pain in your neck

Problems with your neck can cause pain locally and in areas you may not associate with coming from your neck. Headache, arm or chest pain or tingling in the arm or fingers can all come from the joints of the neck. This is why a strain to a disc can be mistaken for shoulder ache. Likewise, mechanical issues elsewhere, such as trouble with your lower back may cause you to sit or stand differently leading to a pain in your neck.

Sedentary jobs such as driving or time at a computer will make your neck work differently

Neck pain is often caused by a forward-chin posture as we then tend to hinge or look up at our computer screen or environment.  This can irritate joints in the neck and cause symptoms. Using your story we can understand your problem and get to the bottom of your pain. Only then can we successfully plan a course of action to get you well again.

neck-pain-1X-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.

neck-pain-2Irritation of the sinuses can cause pain throughout the head and face

When the sinuses become inflamed due to allergies or infection they can cause a great deal of pain and distress. Coughing, stuffiness, headache, facial pain, nausea and appetite loss are all symptoms of sinusitis. A Post-nasal drip can occur with sinusitis and may cause a chronic cough that is worse at night and prevents you from sleeping well.

Any other problems with the head and neck, such as tooth & jaw problems, heartburn and headaches can all exacerbate pain in the sinuses. Poor facial mechanics from injury or tooth extraction reduces fluid drainage and further aggravates the sinus inflammation.

What does treatment involve?

Treatment involves calming any tissues that are referring pain to the sinuses. The facial mechanics will be addressed and exercises given to improve fluid drainage, thus helping to relieve congestion and allow you to breathe more easily.

Pain and clicking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or jaw is fairly common

It can lead to difficulty eating and talking and at worst locking of the jaw.  There are many causes, such as imbalances and stresses through the facial bones, teeth and muscles.  This may be a result of a tooth extraction or from teeth grinding at night. Also problems with the neck and back can cause the lower part of the jaw to hang differently from the skull leading muscles to tighten as it struggles to cope.

What does treatment involve?

Symptomatic relief will be gained from gently coercing joint movement and releasing the small yet powerful muscles which control the joint. Sometimes treatment will involve internal work on the muscles of the jaw.  We may liaise with your dentist or consultant if dual management is needed.

Employers and Legal representatives

We are able to give off-work certificates when necessary although research shows that the longer you are off work for, the more likely you are to have pain in the longer term. By coordinating with your employers or legal representatives we can advice that light duties are given and ensure you are getting the best possible help in terms of your health.