• General - Neck Pain

    It is very common to experience neck pain in acute bouts, with two thirds of the population likely to have some form of neck pain during their lifetime.

  • Neck Pain

     

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    It is often unclear as to why neck pain occurs as it is not usually related to a serious health condition. As neck pain is rarely associated with a serious condition, the chances are that you may be experiencing neck pain as a result of bad posture or possibly a small muscle sprain. If you are finding the pain difficult to cope with, painkillers are a helpful option. Whilst you are likely to make a full recovery from neck pain, it can become chronic in some cases and a more detailed examination and further treatment is recommended.

    Understanding the Neck

    It’s important to understand the structure of the neck to try and pinpoint the cause of neck pain, as many patients will report different symptoms. Towards the back of the neck, where acute neck pain is often concentrated, you have the cervical spine, muscle, and various ligaments. The cervical spine is made up of seven bones that we refer to as vertebrae. The lower five vertebrae are cylindrical and bony which is similar in shape to the majority of the spine itself. The upper two vertebrae serve a different purpose, attaching the skull to the spine and giving us the ability to turn our heads.

    The tough, fibrous discs between the vertebrae give our spine the flexibility it needs to carry out everyday tasks and activities, along with strong ligaments and various muscles that are attached to the spine. The spinal cord sends messages to and from the brain and is protected by the vertebrae. There are some nerves from the spinal cord that come out from the vertebrae which allows us to move our neck and arms, whilst there is also a major blood vessel known as the vertebral artery which carries blood to the posterior area of the brain.

    Who Suffers From Neck Pain?

    Neck pain is a common symptom that is experienced by as many as two thirds of the population at some stage in their lifetime. It is most common in adults aged between 50 and 75, although anyone can suffer from neck pain as there are many different types and causes. It is slightly more common in women than in men.

    Types and Causes of Neck Pain

    Here are some regularly diagnosed types and causes of neck pain:

    -          Non-Specific Neck Pain

    This is the most common type of neck pain and one that you are likely to experience at some stage in your life, usually in unprecedented bouts. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what may have caused the ‘mechanical’ neck pain to occur, so it is usually associated with minor muscle or ligament sprains or strains. This type of neck pain is usually associated with daily activities that counteract the purpose of the upper area of the spine, such as staying seated for long periods at a desk or maintaining a slouched posture. This is why it is more common in people who work in an office environment.

    -          Acute Torticollis

    Again, it is difficult to identify the causes behind acute torticollis (twisted neck, wry neck). Torticollis is a condition when the head becomes twisted to the right or left, resulting in painful attempts to return the head to a central position. Pain is usually associated with strained muscles or ligaments in the neck after twisting. Some people who experience acute torticollis may wake up in the morning with neck pain due to their sleeping position. It is quite common for people to go to bed without any pain and wake up feeling uncomfortable. Symptoms usually subside in a few days without any treatment.

    -          Whiplash

    Whiplash causes a strain in the neck muscles and ligaments as a result of a rapid, forcible movement. It is commonly associated with car accidents as the neck is thrown aggressively backward and forward on impact. This jolting movement causes the neck to forcibly rotate, causing the muscles and ligaments to stretch uncomfortably. It is very common to experience whiplash as many people are accidentally hit from behind in traffic collisions. It is more common in women due to the fact that their neck muscles are not as strong as men’s. It is less common to get whiplash from everyday activities, such as from a fall or sporting injury. Pain is usually accompanied by stiffness in the neck, making it difficult to turn your head. In rare circumstances whiplash may result in neck damage, so you are always advised to see a doctor if pain fails to subside or gets worse over time.

    -          Degeneration

    Some older people with neck pain may be suffering from the effects of wear and tear or degeneration. This occurs when both the vertebrae and the discs between the vertebrae gradually wear. It is also known as cervical spondylosis. However, many older people develop upper spinal degeneration over time without any symptoms.

    -          Cervical Radiculopathy

    Cervical radiculopathy occurs when one of the nerves protruding from the spine in the cervical region is damaged or pressed. A radiculopathy describes the event of what many refer to as a ‘slipped disc’. However, the disc does not actually slip. Instead, it prolapses through the outer part of the disc and pushes against the nerve that passes out of the vertebra. One of many symptoms associated with cervical radiculopathy is neck pain along with loss of feeling, weakness, pins and needles and pain in other areas of the upper body, including arms and shoulders. Cervical radiculopathy should be assessed by a doctor as it can cause severe discomfort and pain over time.

    In rare cases, neck pain is associated with serious health conditions, including bone disorders, cancers and infections. If your neck pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as weight loss or fever, you should seek further medical attention to pinpoint the cause.

    Treating Neck Pain

    Various treatments in physiotherapy are capable of dealing with neck pain, with a number of recommendations provided by our highly experienced physiotherapists here at the Therapy Centre. It can be very helpful to take onboard various neck exercises from physiotherapists that are specifically designed to deal with neck pain. If pain persists, detailed physiotherapy can help to identify the true cause of pain with more specific neck exercises also recommended. It also helps to work on your everyday posture whether it’s in a commercial or domestic environment, as well as relying on some kind of support such as a firm pillow when sitting or sleeping. 

     

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