Let’s talk about Meniscoid Entrapment Syndrome (AKA Cricked Neck)
The small joints at the back of the spine are made up of 2 joint surfaces, covered by a ligament sheath which enclose the joint; and then filled with synovial fluid to act as lubricant. Because the shape of the joint surface is 2 outwardly curving (convex) structures; like two balls kissing against each other; there is a lot of spare space; so many of these joints develop a “meniscoid” within the joint capsule; a flap of membrane, which simply reduces the amount of fluid needed for the joint to function.
This meniscoid can become trapped, or pinched between the joint surfaces – typically during sudden movement, and particularly if that movement happens whilst the neck is relaxed, or unloaded (allowing a greater separation between the joint surfaces) – such as a bad dream at night; or flinching whilst otherwise relaxed. This is the classic “cricked neck” injury which typically presents as severe pain in the neck which may radiate to the head or shoulder, usually presenting alongside a lack of motion, particularly into side-bending or rotation – essentially, any movement that pinches harder.
The more pain you experience, then the more your muscles tighten up in order to protect the neck – which may well increase the pinching on the meniscoid as well. Typically a cricked neck like this can recover by relaxing the neck muscles, and keeping the structures as mobile as possible until it releases naturally; this may take a few hours, or several days. Spinal manipulation can be particularly effective at releasing this; whilst massage can help the muscles relax, which may be enough to release the meniscoid. Once released, the meniscoid is likely to still be very tender for a little longer; but mobility should be more-or-less completely restored; these cases rarely need a 2nd treatment.
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