Aching or grabbing pain from the joints and muscles of the cervical spine.
The neck is comprised of 7 cervical vertebrae, each separated by a fibrocartilage disc, just like the rest of the spine. What makes this area different is that there is an extra pair of joints either side of the discs from C2 to T1. Furthermore, the top two vertebrae are totally different in shape and mechanics, which allows us to turn and nod the head.
Simple neck pain is similar to simple back pain in that it is a mechanical dysfunction diagnosis based on the exclusion of more serious pathology, but there are more serious pathologies to consider in this region because neck pain can be associated with headache, nausea and dizziness. So it is very important to get your diagnosis right in the presence of symptoms such as these. Once all other possibilities have been excluded, treatment of simple mechanical neck pain involves soft tissue massage, heat, mobilisation and manipulation. We generally treat the whole spine on a lot of cases because there is often a confounding source of asymmetry in the thoracic or lumbar regions that could be perpetuating the problem.
Other contributing factors include spondylitis / spondylosis, disc disease and postural syndrome. These terms can confuse the situation because all of them are probably present in most cases of neck pain, to varying degrees. In some cases the joints have developed some moderate to advanced degenerative changes, and in these cases, if you’ve been to the doctor and had x-rays done you might be told you have arthritis or osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease or spondylitis or spondylosis. What’s important to know is that these terms all basically mean the same thing. Your joints are getting older and it is normal to find these sorts of things when you scan people. From the osteopath’s perspective, it just tells us we need to be careful when mobilising certain joints.