Per year, about 30-50% of the adult population suffers from neck pain.
As a rule, the causes of these complaints are 'harmless' and can be traced back to a hardened musculature and/or agglutinated fascia tissue; so-called myofascial causes. Nevertheless, persistent neck problems considerably reduce a person's quality of life. A visit to an orthopaedist often remains inconclusive, because no clear causes can be identified as the trigger for your complaints.
What's more, no patent remedy is available to allows you to rapidly alleviate these complaints yourself. Exercise and activity are important components, but often are not enough alone. In fact, too much exercise can even make the symptoms worse. So what can be done? First of all, it is important to identify the triggers.
An imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems is almost always the cause of or accompanies neck complaints. The sympathetic nervous system is the nervous system geared towards activity, i.e. the sympathetic nervous system influences the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, digestion, sexual reaction, sweat reduction and also muscle tension. In situations of distress, the sympathetic nervous system is designed to use all its energy to free us from the situation through fight or flight.
However, these emergency situations have changed in the modern age; a two-minute attempt to flee from a dangerous animal in the Stone Age has become a stressful eight-hour working day in which the sympathetic nervous system is permanently in overdrive. This results in a permanently tense musculature in the musculo-skeletal part of the body, which then has a permanently increased need for oxygen; if it can no longer compensate sufficiently for this, painful tenseness develops.
The neck with its trapezius and sternocleidomastoid muscles, which are the only muscles in the body that are directly supplied by a cranial nerve, is particularly susceptible to stress-related tenseness.
Sitting for long periods of time leads to overuse of the postural muscles and promotes the development of painful trigger points and muscle stiffness in the neck area. Prolonged sitting also prevents diaphragmatic breathing and so also leads to tenseness in the rib-lifting muscles around the thoracic spine.
Working in front of a computer screen for long periods of time not only strains your eye muscles but also the small muscles in your neck, known as the suboccipital muscles. Also a poor sleeping position, permanent repetitive movement patterns, be they work-related or even when doing sports, can trigger painful conditions in the neck area.
First and foremost, rare and more serious conditions need to be ruled out in a series of preliminary medical examinations and manual tests. This is followed by a passive and active mobility check and then afterwards targeted treatment.
Each treatment session is individually adapted. I always work myofascially. Myofascial work means working on the muscles (myo) and on the (fascia). I do not use "repositioning" or Mobilisation techniques on the cervical spine.
Which method is ultimately chosen depends on the patient and their circumstances.
The trapezius muscle is more prone to painful tenseness and trigger points than any other muscle. There are few adults who do not have painful trigger points in the trapezius muscle. This is no doubt caused by posture, but to an even greater extent by vegetative/stress-related factors. For example, raising the shoulder is an instinctive reaction to stress of any kind and takes place unconsciously. The fact that the trapezius muscle, together with the sternocleidomastoid muscle, is the only muscle that is directly supplied with nutrients by the brain (accesorius nerve) suggests that stress, racing thoughts, etc. lead to tenseness in the trapezius muscle.
The sternocleidomastoid muscle is the brother/sister muscle of the trapezius muscle, which is also supplied by a nerve from the brain. The sternocleidomastoid muscle is not only an important muscle for turning the head, but also for spatial orientation and our sense of balance. Painful trigger points in the sternocleidomastoid muscle can result in dizziness.
To speak of fascia alone is actually too short-sighted; it is not an understatement to say that the fascia system can be contrasted with the organ or muscle system. Fascia are connective tissue structures that surround muscles and organs, connect bones, store energy in the form of fat and extend through the whole body as a continuum, thus giving truth to the much quoted saying, "everything is connected to everything". Fascia also play a key role in bodily perception, pain perception, in delivering nutrients to cells, in storing energy, but also in the stability of the space. Hormones, metabolites that regulate cell metabolism eventually migrate from the blood through the connective tissue to reach their target cell, while, at the same time, waste products from the cells migrate through the connective tissue back to the blood capillaries.
Conversely, this means: the less permeable the connective tissue space, the worse the functioning of the metabolism. This makes it all the more important to relax the connective tissue manually on a regular basis. The image below depicts the superficial dorsal line (SDL), a fascial pathway that passes through the rear of our entire body from our eyebrows to the soles of our feet.
The suboccipital musculature is of enormous importance in the onset of tenseness and headaches. Its high number of muscle spindles (sensory organs in the musculature) also underline its outstanding importance in the point of bodily perception and also coordination.
For example, in the large buttock muscle there are 7 muscle spindles per gram of muscle mass, in the suboccipital muscles there are 36 muscle spindles per gram. Of great importance is also their close connection to the eye muscles. You can test this yourself by placing your fingers just below your skull on the back of your neck, closing your eyes and slowly moving your eyes to the right and left while keeping them closed.
You should feel a change in tension in the small muscles in your neck. Conversely, prolonged eye strain, i.e. computer work, automatically strains the suboccipital muscles. They are also considered to be the core of the SDL (the superficial dorsal line), which means that the suboccipital musculature can be used to treat the entire dorsal muscular fascia.
Born in 1980
State-certified physiotherapist (graduated in 2013), further training/advanced training:
Osteopathy at the Vienna School of Osteopathy, AORT/Strain Counterstrain according to R. Van Assche, Pain Physiotherapy according to Hockenholz, Manual Lymphatic Drainage according to Foeldi, Golgi Pain Point Therapy.
Several years spent working in physiotherapy practices in and around Munich and abroad (Ireland)
No. The region around the cervical vertebrae is sensitive, so no "repositioning" takes place and no forceful techniques are used
A slipped or herniated disc in the cervical spine can certainly cause discomfort in the area around the neck, but often it is not the slipped disc itself that is the cause, but tenseness in the myofascial area. Excessive tenseness of the cervical spine muscles can even lead to the outer solid shell of an intervertebral disc bursting due to the pull of the muscles and the gelatinous core escaping to the outside. However, these herniations are only painful if they are located in very specific places, namely where the nerve roots emerge from the spinal cord. In principle, a herniated disc should be treated by a doctor if a loss of strength and sensibility in the neck, shoulder or hand muscles occurs.
There are many different types and causes of headaches. With migraines, for example, it is assumed that serotonin receptors in the smooth muscles play a decisive role in their onset. Tension headaches, on the other hand, often have their cause in the suboccipital musculature, which can then continue via the galea aponeurotica, the epicranial aponeurosis, all the way to your eyes. Common to both types, however, is that myofascial trigger points can influence pain, also in a migraine.
This of course varies from person to person. You should see an improvement after 2-3 treatment sessions.
Please feel free to use the contact form to describe your complaints and make an appointment. In an emergency, I can also be reached by telephone on +49 (0)170 3421 692.
However, I would ask you to use the contact form first please.