Understanding neck, shoulder, arm pain and headaches
Your neck has to support the weight of your head and the physical stresses imposed by the vast array of head movements that are involved in day to day living. The nerves that connect your brain to your body, arms and legs must travel through your neck. With the amount of time we spend during the day at work with computers, driving or doing repetitive tasks or at home at the PC, ironing, or preparing food it is not surprising that we need a little chiropractic help from time to time to keep our necks free of aches and pains.
Poor posture from bending, repeated lifting or manual work will in time lead to neck pain. Once the joints of your neck start to stiffen up there may be interference with the healthy functioning of the nerves that run through the neck, leading to nerve irritation. This can in turn develop into ‘referred pain’ as it passes to other areas along the pathways of the irritated nerve, leading us to treat your neck for problems with your head, upper back, shoulders and arms.
Treatment may involve specific “adjustments” (manipulation) done by hand to free stiff joints and to ease spinal nerve irritation. Aids to recovery may include using ice, heat or massage treatment amongst others. It will be important to support your treatment with individual advice on exercise, work and lifestyle in order to speed recovery and to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of the problem.
Although headaches are common and most of us suffer them from time to time, you may be one of those unfortunate people who experience really disabling head pain. If so, you may wish to consider a different approach and chiropractic management has been shown to reduce many of the causes of headache.
Chiropractic can be effective in reducing neck muscle tightness arising from stress and tension in your neck, shoulders and back. Headaches that arise from an injury or repetitive strains to your neck may also respond. Migraine is a severe headache that may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and other forms of visual disturbance. Problems affecting the vertebral bones of your neck will often cause headaches and can become a contributory factor in the development of a migraine.
Our Healthcare 2000 chiropractors will identify stiffness in the neck joints and, by restoring movement with treatment, they will reduce the muscle tension and nerve irritation that may be causing or contributing to the problem.
Treatment consists of specific chiropractic manipulation, which we call “adjustments”, to free up your stiffened joints and to reduce any irritation on your spinal nerves. We will often recommend ice, heat or massage amongst other things and support your treatment with individual advice relating to your personal lifestyle, work and exercise, thereby helping you to limit some of the factors that risk bringing on a recurrence.
It is not only car accidents that can lead to whiplash. Sudden jerks from slipping, falling or hitting your head can give you a whiplash-type injury. Forceful repetitive head movements may cause injury as well. The “facet” joints at the back of your neck glide over each other and are self-lubricated but in a whiplash injury they are forced together causing damage not only to the joints themselves but often to surrounding tissues such as the discs, muscles, ligaments and nerves.
Whiplash-type injuries can lead to a variety of symptoms including neck pain, arm pain, headaches, dizziness, light headedness, fatigue and poor concentration.
Our Healthcare 2000 chiropractors will take a thorough case history and complete a full examination before reaching an informed diagnosis and advising an appropriate treatment programme for you. Treatment for such injuries may involve gentle, specific adjustments to your neck either directly or, if there is too much inflammation, using an “activator” instrument or “drop technique” to introduce joint movement. Sometimes special resistence type exercises will help to get you moving when any or all movements are excruciating. The aim is to reduce pain and restore normal movement to the area. Treatment aims to ensure that each joint is working at its best leading to a reduction of pain and restoration of normal movement.
Treatment will probably involve selective exercise and rehabilitation techniques. You will be given individual advice on your day-to-day activities, such as how to position your workstation, how to place your pillow and how to modify your lifestyle in order to speed recovery and reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of pain.
Shoulder problems take many forms and careful diagnosis is essential in order to determine the most effective treatment. Treatment for a frozen shoulder for example is quite different to treatment for a rotator cuff injury.
At Healthcare 2000 we can advise on the most appropriate management of your shoulder aches and pains, whether it is by our chiropractors, our physiotherapist or by our sports & rehabilitation therapist.
Causes of shoulder pain
We begin by manually examining all your shoulder muscles and ligaments and will test for cartilage damage. Arthritis of the shoulder is not too common as it is not designed for weight bearing but we do see it occasionally.
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body but this mobility is gained at a cost, as its range of motion leaves it vulnerable to instability. The ball at the top of the upper arm covers a larger surface area than the bony part of the shoulder socket against which it lies, leaving it open to injury. To prevent it from slipping, the shoulder must be firmly anchored by its muscles, ligaments and tendons. Damage can occur in any of these tissues, leading to shoulder pain. The pain can be localised or it may be referred to areas around the shoulder or even down the arm. Problems in the neck may also cause pain that travels along nerves to the shoulder or may lower the pain threshold, triggering pain that might otherwise be hidden.
Shoulder problems that our clinicians may be able to help:
- Rotator cuff injury
- Impingement syndrome
- Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
- Arthritis pain
- SLAP tears (cartilage tear)
- Rehabilitation after fracture, surgery or dislocation