Stress or dysfunction in the neck can also lead to pain or disturbance in your senses. Vision can be disrupted, hearing can be altered, sinuses can be blocked, and smell, taste and swallowing can be compromised. Neck dysfunction is the number one cause of headaches and of course neck pain itself. Neck problems can even lead to internal organ dysfunction because of a certain nerve known as the vagus which can also be compromised in the neck.
It's all in the eyes!
The most common reason for your symptoms is going to be joint or muscle problems. Either or both can contribute to pain in the head, neck, shoulders or arms.
The first thing I’ll do is test how far your neck can move and if it causes any pain, usually while you’re sitting. Then I’ll briefly assess various muscles around your neck to determine their state of tension. After this I’ll ask you to lay on your back, make sure your body is in a comfortable neutral position that won’t aggravate your back or legs, and cover you with a warm towel.
I’ll then assess the way your joints are moving in your neck, and how the muscles allow them to move. Primarily I will be looking for restrictions in movement. It’s very unusual for a joint to be fully ‘out’ of position and this would usually be accompanied by excruciating pain. Nonetheless restrictions in joint movement can still cause severe discomfort.
If there appears to be a joint restriction, I may consider manipulating the joint in order to regain normal movement. I will always explain carefully to you what needs to happen and why, then obtain your permission to carry out the technique. There are many reasons why a joint manipulation may not be carried out and you can be sure that if you are afraid, in pain or unsure, even after I have explained everything to you, then I will not perform the technique. I will NEVER surprise you by distracting you and carrying out the manipulation.
The heart of the problem...
Although I often find joint manipulation very useful in the neck, it’s often only the beginning of treatment. By far the most important reason for your neck pain is muscular. When I manipulate your muscles an extraordinary cascade of events occurs, (see link) which will lead to your improvement.
Important areas I may work on include your chest (pectoral) muscles, the muscles at the base of your skull (sub occipital muscles) particularly for headaches, the top of your shoulders (trapezius muscles), the 'forgotten' muscles in the front of your neck, and possibly into the upper back muscles.
Care, understanding and skill are vitally important in dealing with the neck, not least because of the large number of potentially serious conditions that can lead to symptoms of pain and misery. Additionally it’s a very personal area of the body, it’s also very scary when you have pain here so I believe that helping you to fully understand what is going on can take away some of the fear, and aid in resolving the problem.