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Neck Pain

Neck Pain can be a debilitating health problem. Your head is heavy and balanced on a narrow support made up of seven bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are separated from each other by discs, stabilised by joints and ligaments and moved by muscles. Because the neck is so mobile, it is easily damaged.

The onset of neck pain may be immediate or the pain may gradually increase over several days or weeks causing a slow onset. Pain or a deep ache in the neck, shoulder or arm needs to differentiated from true shoulder pain such a tendonitis or bursitis. The pain can be described as a burning or tingling of the arm or hand alternatively some people may experience headaches. These may be continuous, or only occur when you are in a certain position. By turning your head or looking up or down, the pain may be aggravated and you may experience stiffness of the neck and shoulder muscles and have a reduced range of motion of the neck. 

Neck injuries most often result from motor vehicle, sports or occupational accidents. Damage may occur to vertebrae, joints, nerves, discs, ligaments and muscles. A common neck injury is the acceleration/deceleration injury or ‘whiplash’ where the head is thrown forward or backward.

Bad posture is a risk factor for neck pain as the ligaments are over-stretched, the neck joints and nerves are put under pressure and the muscles become tired. Neck pain can become worse from slouching your shoulders with your head forward, working with your head down for long periods of time or sleeping with your head in an awkward position. It is important to have your condition assessed by a physiotherapist if you’ re experiencing neck pain. 

A Physiotherapist can provide an assessment or examination to help determine the source of pain and its behaviour in the body. The location of the pain and how it behaves can provide an understanding of the underlying physiological problem. From this the Physiotherapist can provide a treatment plan for you. Your treatment may involve:

  • Soft tissue massage
  • Manipulation
  • Joint mobilisation techniques
  • Postural re-education
  • Strengthening, stabilising and stretching exercises to help you manage your problems long-term
  • Neural mobilisation techniques
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Advice and recommendations for ergonomics/desk setup and activity modification

Research tells us that symptoms lasting longer than three months become habitual and are much harder to solve. The sooner you get on top of your neck symptoms the better your outcome.

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