James Grigg
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Neck pain

With the technology revolution being in full swing over the past few decades, more and more people are suffering with all sorts of pains, but upper back and neck pain has become extremely common. Whether it's sitting at the desk for long periods of time, repeated use of tablets and smartphones or driving long distances, today's society will very often put us in the same positions for hours on end each and every day.

With the postures described above, the lower part of the neck is flexed and the upper part is extended. This means that certain muscles and joints are stretched or open, whilst others are compressed or closed. Now, our bodies were designed be able to sit at a desk, however they were also designed to do the opposite movement as well. The problem is, most daily requirements only require moving in one direction. It is like saying only rotate you neck to the left and back to centre throughout a whole day. If you didn't look right at all, then by the end of the day it would most likely be a struggle to actually do it. It's the same idea with sitting all day in a hunched position: we need to do the opposite movement so the body can experience full range of movement in all directions.

As always, with each person we see, teaching your body how to move is a top priority. We will always give you some simple exercises for you to do at home to accompany the treatment received during sessions so you can enjoy your body's full potential.

Below are a few of the more common neck problems that we see in clinic.

You can’t just say “avoid sitting throughout the day”, you have to make sure your body is capable of sitting in the first place

Muscles spasm / stuck joints / trapped nerves

The above conditions often happen if the neck goes into a position it is not used to and does not know how to control. Alternatively it may happen as a result of constantly being in the same position for many hours on end. Pain may be extremely acute and sharp, alternatively it may present as a dull annoying ache. Muscle spasm often occurs as a protective mechanism by the body to prevent further movement into pain.

Each vertebrae in the spine is connected to it's adjacent vertebrae via a set of intervertebral joints. The exception is the top one that is connected to the skull and the tail bone (coccyx). In-between the vertebrae are spinal nerves that exit out from the spinal column to travel around the body. It is quite common for these nerves to become trapped as a result of muscle spasm or lack of mobility in the intervertebral joints. When nerves become trapped they can send pain, pins and needles, numbness, strange skin sensations and muscle weakness to various areas within the body as far as the fingers and toes.

The good news is that these types of conditions usually respond very well to gentle, precise range of movement exercises, joint mobilisations & soft tissue massage. Once we get symptoms under control we can focus on "why" this might of happened to you in the first place.  If you are on of these people who has to sit for long periods a day, we will show you quick and effective ways to help counterbalance this stress on your body to help prevent it from re-occurring.




Spinal disc pain

Intervertebral discs are situated between each vertebrae in the spine. People may say that they have “slipped” a disc before. This is often incorrect as the spinal discs are held securely in place by very strong ligaments. The correct terminology is a bulging disc, which if gets worse can protrude onto the spinal cord and in some cases tear and herniate.

Bulging discs are the most common form of disc injury. Very often they can press onto the spinal nerves that supply the lower limbs. This pressure can lead to pins and needles or numbness spreading into the hands and fingers. Quite often the person will have a loss of power in one or more of the upper limb muscles, often accompanied with a feeling of "heaviness".

Most disc injuries respond to physical therapy treatment and do not require injections or surgery. Treatment should be aimed at reducing the pressure off the disc and surrounding nerve tissue. This can be done by carefully and precisely mobilising the spinal segments around the painful area. The muscles surrounding the injury will definitely be trying to protect the disc and therefore will probably be in spasm. Specific soft tissue techniques and gentle range of movement exercises are often extremely beneficial.

Disc injuries can be extremely painful. Once the symptoms are under control then treatment can focus on regaining full range of movement, strength and co-ordination..


Headaches & muscle tightness / spasm.

When muscles are repeatedly stretched or shortened for long periods of time (i.e. sitting at the desk or in the car) they can often lose their elasticity and pliability. This may then lead to "adhesions" forming between the layers of muscles, causing restriction and ultimately leading to pain.

Adhesions in the upper back and neck muscles are one of the most common causes of headaches. When these adhesions are lightly pressed they can often recreate the feeling of that particular persons headache.

Sports massage is one of the most effective ways of releasing this tissue and providing relief from the headache. Once we get the tissue more pliable then we can focus on exercises to help regain or improve mobility to help maintain the health of the tissue.