The neck is a complex area, lots of little bones, lots of nerves exiting the spine here, lots and lots of muscles interacting to facilitate movement and hold posture.
Let’s chat about cervical disk bars or to give it it’s official name, osteophytes forming in the facet joints of the cervical vertebrae. Disk bars are actually really common, although the name suggests bars form on the vertebrae, they are actually bone formation caused usually by inflammation. So clients with arthritis or spondylosis are most susceptible. However, just poor posture over time can lead to inflammation and therefore osteophyte formation. 😟
So what are the symptoms, and what can we do about it? Well, the symptoms include numbness and tingling in the hand and arm, stiffness in the neck, neck and shoulder pain, nerve pain in the shoulder and down the arm as well as headaches. What can we do about it? Well, let’s have a look at the anatomy, as in the end, that tells us what to do.
Unless your client has an inflammatory disease, in which case that needs to be under control before you start, but once under control or if there is no disease, it is time to start strengthening those neck muscles. Start deep, with the stabilisers and work out to the prime movers. Get that neck in alignment. The disk bars will make the gap between the vertebrae smaller, giving the nerves less space to move and making the neck stiff. Strengthen the interspinales of the neck initially to give it as much space as you can, this will help or even completely clear numbness in the hand. 😃
Next, lots of retraction exercises to ensure the neck is stacked correctly. This will stop the anterior muscles of the neck overworking, causing neck stiffness, protracted shoulders and often upsetting the brachial plexus which sits under the collar bone. A realigned position will mean the structures will rub less, and therefore less inflammation will occur so hopefully osteophytes won’t continue to form.
Finally don’t forget to loosen all those muscles that have been working hard for so long! Muscles that have been held in a shortened position for a long time will be weak. So once loosened you may well have to strengthen these as well!
If using this for CPD: Recap your cervical anatomy. Which muscles cause the head and shoulders to protract, which muscles stabilise the vertebrae of the cervical spine. Which muscles should you be loosening and which should you be strengthening? Which exercises can you use to strengthen them? Have a read up about cervical osteophyte formation, there is lots on google and think about the anatomical structures involved. Identify any other trainers or therapists you may need to collaborate with to treat this condition.
Then write it all up in your CPD log. 😃 For your FREE CPD logbook click here and subscribe to our newsletter.
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