Most types of acute neck pain are due to a muscle strain or other soft tissue sprain (ligaments, tendons). This type can be caused by a sudden force resulting from a car accident (whiplash), or from straining the neck (such as a stiff neck from sleeping in the wrong position, or a strain from carrying a heavy suitcase). Neck pain can feel like having a stiff neck that makes turning the head difficult, sharp or stabbing pain in one spot, soreness or tenderness in a general area on the neck, or pain that radiates down into the shoulders, arms, or fingers, or radiates up into the head.
In treating cervical issues, you first want to assess where the pain is felt, along with if the pain is radiating down the arms and even into the fingers. Next, you would need to palpate the neck to feel for any congestion like trigger points, tight muscles or pinched nerves. Start at the neck and feel down to c-7 and then palpate down the arm. Once you have assessed, you can now begin warming up the neck, upper back (including the latissimus dorsi), shoulders and arms. Put one hand in front of the forehead to support the head to relax the neck muscles.
Start at the occipitals and knead or do circles down the neck. Effleurage the traps and over the rhomboids and scapula into the shoulders. Squeeze traps, pull and shake. Depending on if the person has a pinched nerve or not will determine if you will apply a trigger point on the traps. Find the belly of the traps. Ask the client to take a deep breath, and to exhale. Once a client begins the exhale apply the deep trigger point for about ten to fifteen seconds. The apply fast light rubs to the traps to disperse blood so the client won’t bruise. Next, do some deep effleurage starting at the mastoid process with your thumbs down the lateral sides of the next down to the shoulders. Place ulnar side of the forearm on the trap, apply pressure and stretch clients head to the opposite side.
Repeat a couple of times and then start to incorporate a slide down the upper trapezius while you stretch the neck. Put clients hand into the small of their back. Apply deep pressure using your thumb down the rhomboid, pushing under the scapula. Work on the rotator muscles by applying cross fiber friction on the infraspinatus, teres major/minor into the deltoid. Place forearm onto the trap higher up, use another hand to grab the front of the shoulder. Push on the trap and pull the shoulder back to stretch the chest and shoulder. Repeat the same stretch but move the forearm down slightly for each stretch.
Next, you have to lay the client down supine position to do some compressions on the pectoralis major by the auxiliary. Compress the pectoralis major and while compressing push the arm at the s/h joint down and get a good pec stretch. Repeat a couple of times. Do some petrissage on the bicep and triceps to get some blood flow there. Move down to forearm and hand. Stretch out the hand muscles and flexors and extensors of the forearm. Perform soft tissue release on forearm flexors. Work your way up and down the forearm and incorporate some sliding of the thumb across the wrist into the hand.
If you suffer from Cervical Pain, Neck and Shoulders, make an appointment with one of our therapist calling 610.670.1010