There are many different ways to treat neck pain, and it’s just as well because we don’t all respond to the same stuff. Some people find that acupuncture for eg. Is completely life changing while others don’t get any relief from acupuncture for their neck pain.
The key to effective management and relief of neck pain in many cases is working with a team who are willing to take a sufficiently flexible approach, and trial a number of different therapies to see what works best on your specific case.
Long term management of neck pain often requires more than just the right ‘treatments’. In stubborn cases of neck pain, finding treatment that brings relief is often just the start point. Stress management, postural correction, lifestyle tweaks and even dietary tweaks are often necessary. Coaching for these important changes in those who wish to make them is a part of what we do.
Acupuncture/Dry Needling For Neck Pain
Acupuncture can be extremely helpful in the management of many neck pain cases. We don’t approach acupuncture in the traditional way where needles are placed in a wide no. of locations, we generally focus directly on the area of pain.
Acupuncture aims to promote blood flow, release pressure points in muscle and reduce pain signals. Needles are placed very superficially around the area of pain and we generally leave them in for around 10 minutes, depending on your body’s tolerance to them. If acupuncture works for your neck pain, you will usually start to feel the benefits within the first 2-3 sessions.
Spinal Mobilisation For Neck Pain
Your spinal column is made up of a series of bones, these bones are able to move and flex because of the discs and small joints that connect them. There is actually only a small amount of movement at each ‘segment’ of the spine but when you add all those little units up you have a reasonably mobile column.
The facet joints (think small knuckle sized weight bearing joints) in your neck are a prime suspect for generating neck pain. It’s these facet joints that have locked when you can’t turn your head. It’s these little joints that get injured you get a whiplash. The majority of neck pain sufferers have one or more locked up, facet joints in their neck.
Spinal mobilisation or spinal manipulations mobilise the facet joints and restore movement to your neck and can bring great relief. There are many ways in which facet joints can be mobilised, flicking movements, gentle stretches in specific directions, classic ‘popping’ type of adjustments and using small hand held adjusting tools.
Cryotherapy For Neck Pain
Heaps of people find the application of ice packs for treatment of their neck pain can prove to be very beneficial. Ice works by interrupting pain signals within the nerve, stimulated activity of blood vessels and reducing both inflammatory and pain chemistry in the neck.
One of the most common questions we get asked is whether heat or ice is better. Nine times out of ten ice is a better option than heat when you have pain. Heat can be a bit of a tricky one because it does often feel soothing at the time. Some time after heat application however you may have more pain than you might otherwise have had, this is in theory because the dilation of blood vessels has encourage more blood and inflammation to the area.
Scar Tissue Release (Graston Technique/Guasha) For Neck Pain
A large number of people suffer with stubborn neck pains caused in part by old unhealed sprain injuries and whiplash type injuries to the cervical spine. These injuries can come from almost any historical incident of neck trauma or head trauma. One of the long term repercussions of unresolved neck trauma is perhaps unsurprisingly scar tissue.
Scraping gently in and around the connective tissues of the neck using a blunt scraping tool is the basic method behind how we manage scar tissue in the neck. Guasha is the old Chinese name for this technique but there are many others from different cultures and there are more modern techniques like Graston Technique. The idea with all of them is to break up and assist with remodeling of microscopic scar tissue adhesions, which are a major cause of neck pain.
Deep Tissue Release For Neck Pain
Most necks with persistent or recurring pain are full of ‘pressure points’ or myofascial trigger points (the sore spots you feel in muscles when you get a deep massage). At Featherston St. Pain Clinic we consider ourselves experts at finding and releasing the most stubborn trigger points. It’s not fun to have done (we know that ourselves) but boy does it help with persistent neck pain.
Whether these type of techniques work for your neck or not is basically determined by which of the tissues in your neck are generating pain signals. If your muscles are generating most of the pain in your neck you will probably find great relief with deep tissue work like this.
Post Isometric Stretches For Neck Pain
It should go without saying that we have a tendency to hold tension in our necks, this kind of tension Is a major contributor to many cases of neck pain. By using specific stretch techniques for the muscles in the neck you can often release a great deal of tension from the neck and shoulders. Post Isometric stretches are a specific style of stretching that utilises your muscles tendency to relax after it has contracted strongly.
Suction Cups For Neck Pain
Cupping massage or cupping therapy has been used for thousands of years by multiple global cultures and not only is it still around for good reason, it is currently undergoing a powerful resurgence.
Using suction cups for the treatment for neck pain increases blood flow in the area, stretches the fascia, can bring massive amounts of relief and leaves funny marks that your friends and family will assume are bruises. The most common myth around cupping is that it releases toxins, the actual cause of the marks cupping leaves is deoxygenated blood that has been drawn to the surface.
Percussion Massage For Neck Pain
Percussion has been an established component of soft tissue release, massage and even respiratory healthcare for thousands of years and it is no less effective today. Percussion massage as treatment for neck pain generally involves the use of mechanical massage devices. It is designed to break up scar tissue and promote blood flow within the soft tissues. Percussion is generally at its best when used in combination with the other treatments for neck pain like those in this list.
Rehabilitation & Prevention Of Neck Pain
Rehabilitation of stubborn neck pain can be a tricky subject, this is most likely due to the fact that so many cases of neck pain are wrapped up with our lifestyles and the way we hold tension in our bodies.
Learning gentle self stretching exercises that get deep into the spines connective tissue, and doing them daily is one excellent way to reduce neck pain over time. Strengthening weakened postural muscles so that the spine stays straighter during work, rest and play is an excellent way to assist with managing neck pain in the longer term. This approach reduces chronic compression of the neck bones over time.
Beyond effective treatment, the best way to reduce recurrence of neck pain over time is to find ways to reduce stress and learn how to not hold tension in your neck during your day. Unfortunately this is the one area we can’t help you much with because it doesn’t fall within the scope of our toolkit. We are however frequently able to help you put strategies together to work on this which includes appropriate referrals to those who may be able to help.