Neck Pain – Causes and Treatment
Experiencing neck pain? You’re not alone. Neck pain is the second most common type of pain that people will go see a physiotherapist for (lower back pain being the most common). In any given year, around 50% of Australians will experience neck pain at some point. This risk can be heightened by a number of factors such as: your age, your sex, and the type of work you do. For most Australians neck pain is something that typically lasts between 6-8 weeks, but for around 30% of people, neck pain can become chronic- severely affecting the lives of those who suffer with it. Whether you’re experiencing sharp pain, dull muscular aches or are having difficulty moving your neck, rest assured that a physiotherapist can provide a number of scientifically proven exercises and treatments to ensure your neck pain doesn’t become chronic.. By scheduling an appointment with your physiotherapist as soon as you notice pain, a diagnosis can be made and a treatment plan put in place so that you can return to your daily activities sooner.
Below, we will share some common causes of neck pain, how you can reduce your risk and the treatment options available.
What Causes Neck Pain?
The causes of neck pain are wide and varied, but pain can most commonly be attributed to:
- Injuries and accidents
- Extensive computer use
- Poor posture
- Degenerative disc disease
- Repeated neck strains
- Cervical Spondylosis
- Pinched nerve
- Poor shoulder health
The above is by no means an exhaustive list. Neck injuries can be joint related, muscle-related, bone-related, disc-related, nerve-related, vertigo-related, headache/migraine-related or attributable to systemic diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis. It is important you visit your GP and physiotherapist as soon as symptoms are observed, so that an accurate diagnosis can be made.
Symptoms of Neck Pain
Due to the myriad of causes for neck pain, symptoms will differ between individuals. However you may experience the following:
- Pain around the neck and shoulders
- pain in the jaw or face
- Stiffness or difficulty moving your neck
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- General soreness
- Irritability, Fatigue, Dizziness
Will neck pain ease over time?
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to brush off their neck pain and hope it gets better in time, but this can cause the issue to become much worse. Rest can be beneficial to your recovery, but too much can also result in your neck muscles stiffening up which will extend your recovery time.The neuromuscular system in the human body is remarkably complex, and it’s made up of numerous nerves and muscles which play an important role in regulating movement. Injuries place significant strain on these components, and your ability to control movement, posture and stability will be limited.
Some people have naturally weaker muscles, which can make maintaining an upright posture difficult. It is therefore important to visit your physiotherapist who can show you muscle strengthening exercises which will help to support a healthy posture and reduce your chances of experiencing neck/shoulder pain.
If you have been experiencing neck pain for any more than a couple of days, you should book an appointment with your physio immediately.
Neck Pain – Physio Treatment
Treatment for neck pain is centred around rehabilitation, aiming to restore full function to your neck and prevent a recurrence. Exercise is one of the best ways to treat neuromuscular impairments, and your physio will be the best person to discuss appropriate exercises for your specific condition.
Exercises are generally centred around targeting and activating the deep cervical muscles as well as improving the endurance capacity (strength) of the deep neck muscles. This will reduce pain, minimise risk of recurrence and make it easier to maintain a healthy posture.
Neck treatments may include:
- Exercise to promote flexibility, strength and good posture
- Taping of the neck and shoulders to support irritated structures
- Fine neck muscle and proprioception retraining programs to restore muscle imbalances
- Acupuncture or dry needling to ease muscular tension
- Joint mobilisation or manipulation to loosen stiff joints
- Soft tissue massage for short-term muscle tension relief
- Heat and Cold Packs to ease pain and inflammation.
- Gentle Home Massage using massage balls and foam rollers
- Anti-inflammatory cream to provide temporary pain relief.
Ongoing Neck Pain? Call Erko Physio Today
Neck pain can be debilitating, but treatment is almost always straightforward. It can be easy to shrug off neck, shoulder and back pain as a normal part of life, work and getting older, but nobody should have to put up with neck pain. If you’ve been experiencing neck pain for more than a few days, it’s time to get in touch with the friendly professionals at Erko Physio.
Please call us today on 02 9557 9272 and we’ll put you on track for recovery.