Neck pain can strike at any time and can cause great discomfort when it does. This is because the neck is home to a cluster of muscles and nerves which, if strained or put under pressure, can cause significant pain in other areas of the body, including the head, the back, and even the legs. There are several different muscles in the neck, as well as soft tissues/ligaments which, if they become strained, can cause significant pain. The two most significant include:
This muscle runs from the base of the skull, across the shoulders, and halfway down the back. It’s helpful to think of the trapezius muscle as being shaped like a kite. It helps to facilitate muscle movements such as head tilts and looking up/down, so if it’s strained in any way, chances are you will feel it!
This muscle travels up and down the side of the neck, from the top of the cervical spine and down to the shoulder blade (scapula). Again, if this muscle becomes strained for any reason, it can significantly restrict neck and head movement and/or make it painful.
One of the most common reasons why a neck ache/pain can develop relates to the tendons and ligaments in the neck. Ligaments are fibrous tissue joints which provide stability for the neck and connect to the bones in the spine. If these ligaments become sprained or torn, then pain and inflammation follows. The most common (and avoidable) neck pains and aches happen when these muscles, soft tissues and ligaments become overly strained.
Our infographic below illustrates some of the ways that neck pain can occur, though it’s worth taking a moment to consider the three most frequent causes that we’re most likely to encounter.
- Incorrect posture – as the infographic below shows, there are a number of possible reasons why poor posture can quickly lead to neck-ache. It can be as a result of a old/unsupportive mattress or pillow; it can also be easily caused by a badly arranged chair or computer monitor if you’re working.
- “Text neck”- an increasingly common problem for frequent phone and tablet users. The simple fact that we’re spending more time looking down is putting extra strain on the muscles of the neck.
- Sleeping position – many people are completely oblivious to the fact that sleeping on your front can inadvertently lead to neck-ache, as it means your neck is often twisted to the side in an uncomfortable position.
How osteopathy can help with neck ache
A course of Osteopathy, or more specialised Cranial osteopathy, can help to pinpoint the source of an ache or pain, and relieve any tension or tension accordingly. Osteopathy treatment will normally work to relieve neck pain in any of the following ways:
- Direct pressure and neurovascular stimulation of muscles
- Improving blood supply to an area of tension.
- Treating the whole musculoskeletal system, for example the spine and the core stabilising muscles.
- Giving advice on further stretches and exercises to prevent any injury from recurring in the future.