Neck pain is very common with about one in 10 people having it at any given time. This comes as no surprise when we consider the activities of modern life such as sitting in front of a computer, watching prolonged periods of television and an increasing incidence of poor posture – particularly forward head posture.
Problems within the neck can also cause headache, shoulder pain, TMJ or jaw pain, pins and needles in the hands, carpal tunnel syndrome and upper back pain.
We encourage you to contact us for a thorough assessment with one of our Physiotherapists if you regularly experience any of the following:
- Persistant neck ache first thing in the morning
- Neck stiffness when reversing in the car
- Clicking neck noise when turning
- Constant aching neck muscles
- Tingling in your hands or fingers
Causes of neck pain
By far the most common cause of neck pain relates to the effects of poor posture. In order to understand the impact of poor posture, we must first consider why spinal alignment within the neck is so important.
Your head weighs about 5 kgs and in normal alignment it is very carefully balanced on top of your seven neck bones (vertebrae). Your muscles work very hard to maintain this position and easily withstand short periods of variation. The problem arises when we assume awkward positions for prolonged periods, the fine balance is disturbed and the nerves, muscles, joints, ligaments and discs of your neck become strained and irritated. In fact, the tension in your neck and shoulder muscles doubles for every 2-3 cm’s that your head is forward! Over time, the neck strain and pressure accumulates to a point where it becomes chronic and even the smallest changes in posture cause significant effects. Coupled with the stresses and demands of modern life, it is no surprise why neck pain is so common.
Other common causes of neck pain include whiplash, arthritis and sporting injuries.
Treatment for Neck Pain
Thankfully, Physiotherapy offers a very effective treatment for neck pain. After conducting a complete history, orthopaedic and neurological examination, your Physiotherapist will recommend a course of treatment that aims to reduce pressure, restore movement and prevent recurrence. Typically, your Physiotherapist will recommend the following:
- Postural advice and how to avoid further strain
- A series of spinal mobilisations to restore proper movement to the neck vertebrae
- Massage to tight neck muscles
- Neck exercises to encourage improved movement
- Neck strengthening exercises
- Heat/ice therapy to help manage your neck pain
- Recommend a contoured pillow to provide correct support while sleeping.