If you are suffering from neck pain then it is likely that your posture has a role to play in your discomfort. The spine from your neck to your low back is made up of 24 moveable vertebrae stacked one on top of the other. There is an ideal 3 dimensional alignment of these vertebrae. From the back your spine should be straight (no scoliosis) and from the side there should be three curves (2 lordoses – neck and low back and 1 kyphosis – mid-back). This structure allows the spine to function efficiently and to effectively “shock absorb” any forces involved when moving. If your posture is good and spinal alignment normal the muscles that move the spine will be the right tone, neither tight nor weak, creating balance between the bones, discs, muscles, tendons and ligaments ultimately allowing pain free movement.
If your posture deviates away from this ideal position that is when pain can set in. The most common poor posture we see that affects the neck is where the head is positioned ahead of the centre of gravity, literally a forward head posture. Muscles across the shoulders and at the base of the skull become tight usually associated with rounded shoulders with an increased mid-back (thoracic) curve. Like all spinal pain, neck pain can often cause discomfort elsewhere and can also be affected by tension from elsewhere. The shoulder girdle, arms, hands, head, jaw and face are common referral sites for problems arising from the neck.
There is evidence to support the effectiveness of manual therapy in the treatment of mechanical neck pain. A 2012 study (Bronfort et al, 2012) concluded that spinal manipulation and / or home exercise with advice were more effective in treating acute and subacute neck pain (duration of pain 2-12 weeks) than medication alone in both the short and long term. Due to the fact that neck problems can often arise due to compensation from lower down the spine it is important to assess the whole spine and to treat areas away from the region that is sore. There is evidence to support this principle too. Thoracic spine mobilisation and manipulation has been been shown to be effective in the treatment of acute and subacute neck pain (Bronfort et al, 2010).