All too often, people attribute neck pain to tension and take medication to hide the symptoms. Sound familiar? Luckily there's a better way... A study published recently in the medical journal Spine revealed many people are often a little hazy on when and where their neck pain started. This study, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), started about seven years ago. WHO started the Bone and Joint Decade and set up a task force with the job of reviewing all the research about neck and associated disorders. They reviewed 31,878 citations, 1,203 reviewed papers and four research projects - it makes me tired just thinking about it!
Sure enough, most people don't remember when their neck issue started. Researchers concluded, "There is usually no single cause of neck pain." Unless you have had an injury to your neck like "whiplash" from an auto accident, neck pain usually sneaks up on you. The study notes neck pain is quite common, and the majority find their neck pain is stubborn and recurrent to some degree.
The task force also came up with a new classification of neck pain. They suggested four grades of neck problems, no matter whether it comes from injury, arthritis or any other cause. To paraphrase: Grade I: Neck pain that doesn't interfere with living. Grade II: Neck pain that does significantly interfere with living. Grade III: Neck pain associated with a "pinched nerve," causing radiating pain, weakness or numbness in the arm. Grade IV: Neck pain associated with tumors, infections, fractures and other serious conditions.
As you might guess, most neck discomfort is Grade I and II. There was also acknowledgement that "Cervical manipulation is a reasonable option for people with Grade I or II neck pain", something osteopaths do on a daily basis. Osteopaths "adjust" the joints, muscles and connective tissues of the body to improve motion by reducing restrictions and nerve irritation, thereby reducing discomfort and increasing recovery. So, how fast can a patient with neck pain expect to feel better with osteopathic care? By chance an issue of JMPT, British authors studied which neck symptoms might respond the quickest to hands-on treatment. Overall, considering all possible neck area complaints, about 70 percent of patients reported immediate favorable responses to manipulation. However, if patients complained about more specific things like headaches, shoulder or arm pain, reduced arm or neck movement, neck pain, or upper or middle back pain, the percentage of those who reported immediate improvement in pain rose to an incredible 95 percent!
The popular humorist Nora Ephron wrote a book titled I Feel Bad About My Neck, in which she describes her thoughts about being a woman getting older. Well, hating your neck won't make it better, but chances are a trip to the osteopath will.