Our neck plays an important role in nearly every movement we make on a daily basis. It contains some of the most delicate tissues in the body making it highly vulnerable to injury. Most of us know someone who has had neck pain, neck surgery, whiplash, etc. Whatever the case may be, injuries to this part of our body are not always quick to heal and do require special attention and proper care. For the sake of this discussion, we are going to look at soft tissues in the front of the neck as they continue down the arm.
There are numerous soft tissues that can be affected in the neck and any other area of the body. When the term soft tissue is used, it will be to group tissues such as muscles, tendons, fascia, nerves, ligaments and blood vessels. Each of these tissues has a specific function and if there is injury to any one of them, pain might be evident, we might see loss of motor function or numbness/tingling in the upper extremities.
The anterior triangle of the neck is home to many important muscles, nerves and blood vessels. These tissues can become injured through repetitive micro trauma such as sitting in front of your computer for endless hours, a whiplash injury during a motor vehicle accident, a traumatic birth if delivery required excessive pulling or even certain cancers can cause injury destruction to these tissues.
One of the most common locations for an injury like this occurs at the brachial plexus. A plexus is a network of various spinal nerves. Think of a plexus as an electrical box at your home, which distributes wires to different parts of a home. In a plexus, nerve fibers from different spinal nerves (which connect the spinal cord to the rest of the body) are sorted. The fibers are recombined so that all fibers going to a specific body part are put together in one nerve. Damage to nerves in the major plexuses (ex. brachial plexus) causes problems in the tissues these nerves supply.
The most common cause of damage to this area is physical injury. With so many structures in a small anatomical area, it is important that the injury is diagnosed correctly in order to render successful treatment.
One key finding in any soft tissue injury is the accumulation of scar tissue or adhesions. Adhesions develop as the body attempts to repair itself. This is a normal response and can occur after surgery, trauma or infection. Although this is a normal response and necessary for healing, it should be controlled, minimized or eliminated, depending on the person and/or activity level. In an elite athlete, adhesions in key muscles can hinder performance and mean the difference from gold to silver. In a non active person, it might mean being able to move pain free from one side of the room to the other. Regardless of the individual, we can all benefit from soft tissue treatment in one way or another. Many seek out soft tissue treatment for pain and others for performance enhancement. So keep in mind, you do not have to have pain to experience the benefits of soft tissue treatment. For more information on the different types of soft tissue treatment, please visit www.activerelease.com and www.sastm.com
Live your best,
Photo courtesy of McGraw-Hill Education