Most people over the age of 35 show some wear and tear on an X-ray of their necks, but not everyone over 35 has neck pain! X-rays only show the bones in the body and do not show the disc or soft tissues around the bones and joints. Therefore a patient can have a bad X-ray but be pain free or alternatively have a normal X-ray and be in agony because it is not the bones causing the pain. Cricked neck, stiff neck, trapped nerve and pulled muscle, are all terms which patients use to describe pain in the neck. In fact most neck pain is the result of a disc problem causing a trapped nerve. A neck problem can result from sleeping awkwardly and ‘cricking’ the neck; it can be due to prolonged bad posture such as sitting at a computer or at the wheel of a car; or it can be sudden in onset as a result of suddenly jarring the neck, or from lifting or pushing heavy objects. Patients usually complain of constant pain in the neck, across the shoulders or into the shoulder blade. Pain may even be referred from the neck up to the head or down the arms – referred pain. Neck pain may be one sided or felt on both sides.
Treatment relies on the reduction of the disc bulge by changing the mechanics of the spine and reducing the tension in the connective tissue with Connective Tissue Manipulation and Manual Lymph Drainage. Correct posture is very important to improve the neck pain and prevent recurrence. Pillow height should be sufficient to maintain the neck in a neutral position and prevent problems whilst in bed.