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Neck Pain

Today’s modern living often entails hours of driving and hunching over workstations, which can play havoc with our necks. Whilst neck pain is less common than lower back pain, many people experience neck pain and related arm pain at some stage in their lives and seek our help. Neck pain often results from abnormalities in the soft tissues – muscles, ligaments, and nerves, as well as in the bone and the joints of the spine. The most common causes that we identify and treat are soft tissue abnormalities from injury, or prolonged wear and tear and in many people it is also the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders and arms.

When neck pain is caused by muscle strain, you may have aches and stiffness that spread to the upper arm and forearm. Shooting pain that spread down the arm into the hand and fingers can be a symptom of a “pinched nerve” or nerve entrapment in the neck. When a nerve is “pinched” in the neck, numbness, weakness and possibly pain of the hands or arms may occur. Disc injuries are the most common cause of nerve entrapments.

Nonsurgical Medical Care for Neck Pain
Medical care for most types of neck pain typically starts with nonsurgical treatments such as one or some combination of the following:

Physical therapy. Most treatment programs usually include some form of physical treatment to improve neck strength and flexibility. The physical therapy program’s structure and length will vary depending on the specific diagnosis and situation. In the beginning, the person will typically have multiple sessions per week with a trained physiotherapist, and then in time will progress to performing the prescribed exercises at home.
Manual manipulation. An Osteopath can make manual adjustments to the spine in an effort to improve range of motion and reduce pain. Also referred to as a chiropractic adjustment, manual manipulation is usually done in an office on a table. The osteopath will typically use his or her hands to do the adjustments, but sometimes a machine can be used to make gentle adjustments.
Prescription pain medications. If an over-the-counter pain reliever hasn’t been effective, prescription-strength medications may be tried. Many pain medications are available, and each has its own potential risks and benefits. While opioids have commonly been prescribed for pain relief in the past, the CDC changed its guidelines in 2016 and recommends fewer opioid prescriptions for chronic pain management due to the risk for addiction and other possible complications.

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