Back neck pain? The neck is technically part of your back, or at least it’s not your front right?! If you’re worried about your back neck pain and feel like it is preventing you from leading the life you want, which for most of us is to be free of pain, then you would be well advised to seek professional treatment of the highest standard.
Our team of internationally experienced osteopaths can take care of your back neck pain and help give you the pain-free life you want sooner. Have a read of the features of neck pain below- knowledge is your first defence!
If you really want to know how your neck feels go find a bowling ball and sit it on top of an upturned packet of Tim Tams. That’s pretty much how your neck bones, all 7 of them, feel on a regular basis. The first neck bone in contact with the skull is called “The Atlas”, and if you’re familiar with Greek Mythology then you know why. Everyone else- google it!
Your head is an astonishingly large object relative to the delicate structures that support it. In fact, the human head weight is around 6kg, so it doesn’t take much imagination to conceive why on earth most of us feel tense and occasionally sore in the neck.
Some of the more common conditions seen from this mechanical David v’s Goliath include degenerative disc disease, pinched nerves, neck strain, herniated disc and whiplash.
There are also other more serious causes of neck pain that aren’t necessarily caused by the weight of the head; these include; virus infection causing lymph gland swelling and rare infections such as osteomyelitis and meningitis.
Some other conditions also directly affect the muscles of the neck, including fibromyalgia and polymyalgia rheumatica.
What does neck pain feel like? And don’t say- “a pain in the neck”!
Obviously neck pain is felt in the neck but there are a few characteristics of the pain you may be feeling that you might not think would be coming from your neck. Your pain may include some or a few of the following features:
General pain located in the neck area, as well as stiffness in the neck muscles.
The pain may radiate down to the shoulder or between the shoulder blades.
It may also radiate out into the arm, the hand or up into the head, causing a one-sided or double-sided headache.
The muscles in the neck are tense, sore and feel hard to the touch.
Acute pain can give rise to abnormal neck posture in which the head is forced to turn to one side. This condition is known as torticollis.
The pain at the base of the skull may be accompanied by a feeling of weakness in the shoulders and arms.
There may be a prickly or tingling sensation in the arms and fingers.
Danger signals associated with neck pain
In some cases, neck pain may be a symptom of meningitis. This is a medical emergency and time is a factor.
If any of the the following symptoms occur seek emergency medical attention urgently.
A rash develops that doesn’t fade when you press it with a glass tumbler or a finger.
The patient feels ill or is running a fever, as well as feeling neck pain.
It’s so painful to bend the neck forward that the patient can’t put their chin on their chest.
Light hurts the eyes.
Neck pain is accompanied by severe headache or continuous vomiting.
Neck pain is accompanied by severe pain in the back.
In some cases, neck pain can be a symptom of head injury or disc trouble in the neck so;
If any of the following symptoms occur seek medical attention urgently.
Neck pain is the result of a recent head injury and the person is becoming drowsy, confused or is vomiting.
Neck pain is accompanied by headache.
If there’s pain behind one eye.
Vision, hearing, taste or balance are affected.
The muscle power in arms or legs is reduced.
How is neck pain diagnosis made?
In most cases, a neck problem can be diagnosed by carrying out a thorough examination that may include all or some of the following:
testing the movement of the neck
testing for trapped nerves
examination of the muscles
examination of the movement of the joints of the spine, neck and hands
X-rays, scans or blood tests may be necessary to make a precise diagnosis.
How is neck pain treated?
For short-term problems, manual treatment (osteopathy) and pain-relieving medicine are recommended.
With longer-term pain (ie three months or more) there’s the following choice of treatment:
intensive muscle training
advice on posture and the use of a supportive pillow
acupuncture provides relief for significant numbers of people with chronic neck and shoulder pain.