The neck, like the back is a very complex area to treat. There are a number of structures within a small area. When patients complain of neck pain, it is crucial to take a detailed history to deduce the cause and formulate an effective treatment plan. Serious pathologies and conditions need to be excluded, particularly in sporting or trauma injuries.
Complaining of pins and needles or numbness?
Pins and needles (or paraesthesia) can originate for a number of reasons. Around the neck region, a common reason can be cervical nerve root compression. Compression of the nerve as it comes out from the spine can be due to ‘slipped’ discs, bony spurs or arthritic changes. The compression of the nerve disrupts its electrical output therefore giving a prickling sensation and the feeling of numbness. Some of these changes are irreversible, but with physiotherapy assistance, pain can be reduced and prevention of your symptoms can be addressed.
Sometimes paraesthesia does not always occur due to compression of the nerve directly but can be due to a phenomenon known as trigger points, also known as ‘muscle knots’.
Trigger points are areas of tight, overactive muscles which have been overused over a long period of time, or spasm in acute injuries to provide a protective response. Active trigger points act as if a nerve is ‘trapped’ and can produce similar symptoms to that of true nerve compression. Trigger points require stretching and tissue mobilisation. Deep tissue massage and acupuncture can work very well in such cases by releasing deeper in the muscle. As always it is best to seek an assessment first in order to determine the best course of treatment to suit your needs.