To treat neck pain, it's essential to understand what the role of the neck is functionally for a person. We often hear patients say, "my neck is out. "While this statement may appropriately convey how a patient feels, it is not representative of what's actually going on in most cases.
Your neck's primary role is to orient your sensory organs to the environment around you. Your neck gets your sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose and tastebuds) best positioned for you to see things, hear things, smell and taste things. Understanding this point is key with neck pain, as we will elaborate.
Your neck is controlled by a complex series of reflexes and muscles that move your neck joints outside your conscious awareness and control. Think about it, when was the last time you really had to think about moving your neck when you went to look at something? It just sort of happened, right? This point is again proved if I ask you to try to turn the 5th bone in your neck to the right on top of the 6th. You can't do it. We don't have specific control and awareness of our neck joints. Our neck joints are automatically controlled for us, like our heartbeat and breathing.
While the convenience of automated neck movements allows us to think about other things, it has a potential downside. Because we aren't consciously aware of our neck movement, we aren't often aware of what we are likely doing to create a neck problem until after the neck has been irritated. At this point, it's often too late, leaving many patients saying, "I don't know what I did; my neck just started to hurt."
Seeing and hearing, as we can now appreciate, heavily influence our neck muscular activity as we orient our
sensory organs on our face to our environment throughout our day.
When we engage in visual and auditory sensory-based activity for long periods, our neck can get dragged into imbalance. Take a moment to ponder your daily sensory activities you engage in for long periods. See if you can think of a few everyday activities for modern humans that might relate to a patient's neck problem.
In the next few blog posts, I'll explore three common everyday postural activities we regularly uncover in our assessment that, once addressed, significantly improve, if not eliminate, a patient's neck pain without the need for a series of office visits! At Radix Pain & Rehabilitation, we strive to get to the root of your problem. Our commitment to your health is available seven days a week, including weekends; we are even open Sundays!