Understanding Neck Pain
Neck pain and headaches are frequently episodic in nature. Often times, pain is mechanical in origin, which means that it is the result of an abnormal force or mechanics that occurs in the tissue. If mechanical forces, such as movement, activity or positions caused your pain to occur, then mechanical forces may also help to eliminate your pain.
There are multiple causes of headaches, the most common being migraine, tension-type headaches and cervicogenic headaches. Features that most clearly distinguish that a headache may be coming from the neck are:
Exercise can have a rapid effect on pain intensity and location. Exercise that brings about a change in the location or intensity of pain is referred to as a mechanically determined directional preference. This has been shown to provide the most important guideline for exercise prescription.
- Unilateral or one-sided headache
- Side-locked headache with neck pain
- Headache associated with neck movements or postures
Common Causes of Neck Pain & Headaches:
Commonly a sudden onset of neck pain is reported suggesting that normal daily activities can trigger neck pain and headache symptoms. Neck pain and headaches can be the result of a number of different factors, but are often the result of postural neglect. Positions such as reading, working at the computer or driving place us in a protruded or forward head posture. Many of us spend most of our day at work or home in this position, placing a constant strain on our neck. Over time this can cause headaches as well as pain that radiates from the neck into the shoulder, shoulder blade, arm and hand. Many people who consistently adopt poor posture remain unaware of the underlying cause of their neck pain or headache.
Here are some other common causes of neck pain and headaches:
- Sitting – Once neck pain develops, poor sitting posture can perpetuate the problem. The longer you sit the muscles around the neck relax and you end up in a forward head posture.
- Working in an awkward position – Some jobs, such as plumbers or mechanics, require us to work in cramped space and adopted an awkward position for an extended period of time.
- Whiplash-type injuries – These injuries are the result of an acceleration-deceleration force usually during a motor vehicle accident or other high velocity impact.
- Lying and Resting – If you regularly wake in the morning with a stiffness and neck pain, you may need to change the thickness or number of pillows you are sleeping with.
The McKenzie Method’s initial assessment provides your therapist a reliable pathway to accurately reach a mechanical diagnosis and produce an appropriate treatment plan.
Through a series of repeated movements and positions, your therapist will assess your symptomatic and mechanical response. Patterns of response for what makes your symptoms better or worse can be determined in order to prescribe specific exercises and advice regarding posture. Typically this can be achieved within three to five visits.
Our aim is to be as effective as possible in the least number of treatment sessions. Treatment that you can perform five to six times a day can be more effective in a shorter period of time, than treatment performed by the therapist two to three times a week. By learning how to self-treat your current problem, you gain valuable knowledge and ability to control your symptoms and minimize the risk of recurrence.
Neck Pain & Headaches
- Remember to maintain correct sitting posture with head over shoulders and chin over chest
- Interrupt periods of prolonged sitting by standing up and walking for a few minutes
- Exercise regularly
- When you start to increase you exercise, do so gradually
By learning how to
self-treat your current problem, you gain valuable knowledge and ability to control your symptoms and minimize the risk of recurrence.
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