Why Does My Neck Hurt?
Neck pain is a common phenomenon, that people can experience on daily basis. Neck pain refers to pain in the neck region (ligaments, bones and muscles), which provides support to our heads and allows movement. Such pain can occur due to injuries, inflammation or abnormalities that result in the stiffness of the neck. In addition to this, a bad posture can also trigger neck pain.
You can experience mild to severe neck pain due to various causes. These causes can be diverse for different people with neck pain. Let’s take a few concrete examples to better understand the causes of neck pain:
Postural Neck Pain:
During a day of computer work, if your screen is not at eye level, you are constantly straining your neck muscles to keep your head bent forward. This prolonged position during a working day can lead to neck pain in the short or medium term.
Mechanical Neck Pain:
Osteoarthritis is a common cause of neck pain. It causes reduced mobility within the affected joints. The mechanical stresses usually absorbed by your entire spine apply in an unusual way to these less mobile vertebrae, causing them to suffer.
Ocular Neck Pain:
A vision problem can cause pain in the neck. Small muscles allowing the movements of our head and eyes are in the neck. When your eyesight goes down, the body adapts, we use more of these muscles and put more pressure on our eyes to compensate. Tensions in the neck then becomes source of pain.
Manducatory Neck Pain:
If you grind your teeth at night, if you have a chewing or jaw defect, you may have neck pain. The jaw is closely linked to your cervical muscles, which allows the opening and closing of your mouth. If these muscles are put under inappropriate tension, neck pain can occur.
Auditory Neck Pain:
A decrease in your hearing involves adjusting the position of your head in order to get closer to the sound source. The vertebrae as well as all the elements that surround them (ligaments, muscles, nerves, etc.) are then subjected to unusual stresses and can cause pain.
Visceral Neck Pain:
In front of the cervical vertebrae are visceral elements such as the esophagus, the pharynx and the larynx. These elements are means of fixity that keep the organs in place and ensure a good sliding plane between the different protective tissues of these viscera. Adhesions can occur as a result of inflammatory phenomena such as pharyngitis, for example, and thus create a decrease in the mobility of surrounding structures. Neck pain can then appear as a result of inflammatory phenomenon in this area.
Neurovegetative Neck Pain:
When there is a neurovegetative imbalance in your body, stress can take on too much and create strain on your neck and cause pain.
Traumatic Neck Pain:
Following a road accident, you may suffer from lesions not visible in medical imaging (X-ray, scanner, etc.) but deep structures may be affected and painful. The osteopath is able to detect these deep traumatic lesions and will know how to lift them in order to restore your comfort.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Neck Pain
The osteopath’s job will be to determine, first of all, the cause of your neck pain. Then, the osteopath will focus on restoring movement to all the structures impacted in the dysfunctional pattern that caused your pain. It may be required to work locally on your cervicals but also more remotely at the level of the skull, your entire spine as well as on certain viscera. It can take care of acute neck pain (not exceeding 3 months) but also chronic neck pain (more than 3 months) effectively in order to provide lasting relief.
Depending on the cause, multidisciplinary care will be necessary and your osteopath will be able to guide you to a qualified therapist: a dentist, if you have a jaw problem or an ophthalmologist, if your eyesight needs to be checked. However, other causes exist such as an inflammatory, infectious, vascular origin. The osteopath is able to recognize the signs corresponding to pathologies that he is not able to take care of and will know how to redirect you to the health professional competent in this area.
The pain you are experiencing in your neck can be an indication of a simple stiffness in the neck or it can signify some serious medical condition. Determining the cause of your neck pain is very important for the diagnosis of an underlying medical condition. Therefore, if you are experiencing a persistent pain in the neck that does not subside after a period, lookout for the triggers for getting rid of it and preventing it from getting worse.