(This page deals with neck-related shoulder pain. Problems with the shoulder joint itself & painful arm movements can be found on the page entitled Shoulder Problems)
If you’ve got upper shoulder pain or neck pain, a pinched nerve or issues from a neck injury, then you’re in good company with the many patients we’ve helped here at Osteoworks . And if you’re one of those who sit in front of a computer all day, you probably have learned to live with a tight neck and shoulders & possibly frequent headaches.
As with all problems, trying to diagnose yourself using the Internet or listening to friends who’ve had neck pain or a ‘pinched nerve’ is unreliable — and it’s only half of the problem. The other more critical half is to know what to do about it.
That’s where we’re trained to help relieve your symptoms, but only after first identifying the cause. That focuses treatment more effectively rather than just rubbing the part that hurts. The goal is to provide lasting help.
Does your work give you grief?
Neck and shoulder pain usually go together, which is not surprising given that they share many muscles. Nerves coming from the neck also serve the shoulder muscles and can make them feel tight and painful if the nerve is being irritated.
The shape of the neck is also directly affected by our posture and how our shoulders ‘sit’ or slouch in relation to the rest of our body. That’s one reason why getting your work station set up correctly is so important if you spend a lot of time at the computer. And Osteoworks can give you some help with this in terms of workstation & self care advice.
Poor posture, especially hour after hour at the desk, is a major cause of sore neck & shoulder muscles because these become overworked & irritated from inadequate circulation in the tissues. This leads to weakness in the muscles, which only makes the neck pain worse. Very localized points of tightness and soreness called trigger points often develop in these tissues, which then perpetuate the pain cycle and can cause referred pain elsewhere. Stress commonly affects pain in these areas too.
You’ll be surprised at how much better you can feel after just a couple of treatments and some taking on board some common sense advice. That’s likely to be at least as important as treatment itself since you’ll be spending a lot more time at work than at our clinic. We can also show you a couple of ways you can treat your own neck to relieve and help your symptoms.
(See also under the separate tab for Headaches}
Headaches have many causes, but a big share are routinely caused by tightness of the muscles between the base of your skull & your upper neck. These then irritate the nerves passing through them to your head, giving you a headache. This usually responds well to treatment. Tender points (called trigger points) in other muscles such as the upper trapezius of the shoulder can give pain that is felt elsewhere as a headache or pain behind the eye, or even into the arm. So these need to be seen to.
Migraines & other types of headaches (e.g migraines linked to hormonal changes) occur for different reasons & the effectiveness of treatment depends on the cause and how long you’ve been suffering from them. Not all respond to manual therapy. However, sore muscles or an uncomfortable neck may make attacks worse or help trigger them. so it’s worth seeing if we can help to relieve these.
Pins & needles or weakness in the arm or hand?
This needs experience to diagnose as the source of the problem could be anywhere along the nerve from the neck to the arm. As an example, Carpal Tunnel (tingling, numbness or pain) is usually confined to the hand, often strikes at night & has its cause outside the spine in the area of the wrist itself. Beware, though – not all tingling in the hand is carpal tunnel. Jumping to conclusions can lead to a wrong diagnosis and ineffective treatment.
But a disc problem or degeneration in the lower neck also need to be considered as a possible reason for a pinched nerve, although this would normally be expected to cause altered sensation in the arm as well. The treatment, of course, will be different depending on the cause, and in some cases we’ll advise an x ray (which we can authorize for you) or referral to a specialist if the severity of the symptoms suggest something serious.
Have you had whiplash or banged your head?
Neck injuries can cause spasm and extreme tenderness in the muscles of the neck and shoulders, and both need caution in assessing to make sure that no serious damage has occurred. They can also lead to dizziness, vertigo (when the room seems to spin), headaches & the development of trigger points, all of which can be helped.
Gentle and non invasive treatment is the best way to calm the tissues and reduce the levels of sensitivity.
Can’t turn your head?
Have you woken to neck spasm with the first movements of your neck s that you can’t turn your head to one side without a sharp pain stopping you? Turning your head to one side will normally be the worst movement, followed by bending your neck sideways one way.
One visit normally sees help in a big improvement in the range of movement and the degree of relief to the neck pain. The culprit is often one of the vertebrae (bones) at the top of the neck not rotating as it should, and often painfully trapping a portion of the soft tissue between the joint, resulting in spasm. Very painful, but luckily not serious!