Whether it is the extreme pain of an acute neck spasm, or the irritating persistence of chronic neck pain, the experience of living with it can affect one’s quality of life, productivity, sleep and mood.
The neck is a complex and sensitive region of the body and as such requires a detailed understanding in both assessment and treatment, therefore it is recommended to see a qualified professional.
Neck pain is one of the conditions that we commonly see in our clinic and occurs across all age groups. The estimated lifetime prevalence of a significant episode of neck pain is 40% to 70% (1).
The exact cause of the pain can be a challenge to identify as it may arise from any combination of pathology involving the vertebrae, discs, facet joints, ligaments, and/or muscles (2). In practice we often find that the cause involves a combination of these structures as they are intimately linked by their anatomy. If the cause is suspected as non-mechanical or requiring further investigation then referral can be made to your GP.
At Balmain Osteopaths our practitioners will assess your neck range of motion and function in order to identify the structures most likely contributing to the problem. However they will also take into account the surrounding regions connected by common anatomy. For example we often find that stiffness in the upper back and upper ribs contribute to neck complaints through muscles and connective tissues spanning the region.
The osteopath will consider the age of the individual and the nature of the problem, and select treatment techniques appropriate to the person, the condition and the age group.
Laser therapy has been found to be effective in both cases of acute and chronic neck pain. A Lancet systematic review and meta-analysis found that “Low Level Laser Therapy reduces pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain” (3).
Please refer to our Low Level Laser Therapy page if you would like more information on this modality.
Neck pain can be influenced by lifestyle factors such as occupation, ergonomics, and sleeping habits, or, as a result of trauma such as whiplash, falls or sports injuries. Given that injury is a strong predictor of neck pain (4), and that 20% to 40% of acute neck pain will go on to become chronic (5), we recommend that people suffering from neck pain are assessed by a qualified professional.
The osteopath may discuss with you the lifestyle factors which could be contributing to your neck pain and make recommendations such as postural advice, simple stretches and mobility exercises, ergonomic improvements, or advice on sleeping posture and adequate pillow support.
In this technological age with increasing computer, tablet and mobile phone usage, we are seeing an increased incidence of postural neck problems and pain, and with the age of presentation occurring in younger age groups. If you are concerned about the neck posture of your child or teen and would like to have them assessed, please contact us we would be happy to assist.
Psychological factors such as increased emotional or mental stress can be associated with neck pain and approaches to manage or reduce these stresses like relaxation and mindfulness based stress reduction are appropriate to incorporate into a treatment plan.
*the above is intended to give an overview of the osteopathic approach at our practice, however please note that not all of the above may be offered in one consultation.
- BMJ Best Practice. (2018). Assessment of neck pain. Retrieved from https://bestpractice.bmj.com/topics/en-gb/943
- Greenman PE. (2003). Principles of Manual Medicine. 3rd edn. Philadelphia: Lippincott William & Wilkins, 2003 Retrieved from https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2014/april/osteopathy/
- Chow, RT. Johnson, MI. Lopes-Martins, RAB. & Bjordal, JM. (2009). Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in the management of neck pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo or active-treatment controlled trials, Lancet, Nov 2009
- Makela, M. Heiliovaara, M. Sievers, K. Impivaara, O. Knekt, P. & Aromaa, A. (1991). Prevalence, determinants, and consequences or chronic neck pain in Finland. Am J Epidemiol. 1991;134:1356-1367. Abstract.
- Carette, S. (1994). Whiplash injury and chronic neck pain. N Engl J Med. 1994;330:1083-1084