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Neck Pain

 

Neck pain can be very frustrating and irritating; so much so that the phrase "a pain in the neck" has become a meaphor for all kinds of other irritants.

Most neck pain originates in the muscles and joints of the neck, which simplifies the search for the offending tissues. The pain is often accompanied by restricted movement.

Pain originating in the neck, can be referred to the head, shoulder, arm or upper thoracic area. The distribution of the referred pain gives an indication of the location and nature of the disorder.

Diagnosis:

Myofascial trigger points are palpable nodules that are said to be small contraction knots. The points are a common cause of pain and have characteristic patterns of referred pain which can be recognised if they are familiar.

If the pain or paraesthesia (a skin sensation, such as burning, prickling, itching, or tingling) is distributed along a dermatomal region this indicates disorder at the relevant spinal nerve or adjacent structures.

Two types of underlying dysfunction, while not necessarily producing pain themselves, are frequent contributors to the development of neck disorder. These are degeneration of the spinal tissues and excessive muscular tension.

Common disorders:

  • Degeneration of the lower cervical spine.
  • Excessive tension in the muscles that support and move the neck and head.
  • Acute stiff and painful neck (Wry neck)
  • Cervical joint disorder - C3 - C7 / Posterior cervical muscle triggers.
  • Levator scapulae trigger points
  • Whiplash
  • Upper cervical pain and stiffness
  • Tight neck with no stiffness
  • Neurological signs and symptoms arising from within the neck
  • Scalene trigger points.
  • Chronic neck pain

Treatment:

There are many approaches to neck pain that your practitioner may decide to utilise during a treatment.

Traditional Chinese Remedial Massage:

A common therapeutic method used for neck pain is Traditional Chinese Remedial Massage (also known as An Mo Tui Na). Remedial massage applied to the neck area will loosen up the muscles.

Acupressure:

Acupressure, pressing of the fingers on Acupuncture points can also be used on local Acupoints that affect the neck.

Acupuncture can be applied to the neck area to release any muscles that may be tight and requiring release.

Research:

27/08/06 - Acupuncture offers relief from chronic neck pain, while there is little reliable evidence on the effectiveness of massage, according to two new systematic reviews. Click here for more information on this research.

27/06/06 - Researchers from Charite University Medical Center in Germany have found that treatment with Acupuncture added to routine care in patients with chronic neck pain is associated with improvements in neck pain and disability compared to treatment with routine care alone. Click here for more information on this research.

Advanced Practitioner Information:

The following information is suitable for students and practitioners of Acupuncure/TCM and contains content which requires advanced knowledge in this field.

> Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment for Chronic Neck Pain

References

This information has been used with permission from Close to the Bone by David Legge.

Related research archive articles:

1.)  Acupuncture for Neck Disorders.


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