This can quite literally be a pain in the neck and can take two forms:
- Acute neck pain
- Chronic neck pain
Physiotherapy is extremely effective in treating neck pain and also headaches, which are often linked to dysfunction of the cervical spine.
Neck Pain Symptoms
Neck pain may be felt at the base of the skull and spread across the shoulder on one side and even down the arm. It may also often lead to headaches that may be widespread or focal to one point such as behind the eyes or in the temples. Range of motion may be limited, usually more to one side than the other, making it difficult to drive or look over the shoulder. Neck pain and headaches may be caused by poor posture, normal wear and tear, overuse, injury or illness.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
This is one of the main contributors of neck pain and headaches. The key to correct neck posture is to keep the head in a neutral position and to keep the shoulder blades back and down rather than hunched forwards. Many of us tend to have a forward head posture and rounded shoulders while reading, driving, relaxing on the couch or working at the computer. This places undue stress on the joints and muscles of the cervical spine which leads to pain and dysfunction. Or in some offices the computer may be at a much higher level than the head, causing the individual to look up for extended periods which also causes stress on the cervical spine.
Sleeping with your neck on too high or too low a pillow can cause compression of the cervical spine and may lead to neck pain and headaches, as can a mattress that does not support the natural curve of the back.
Trauma to the neck
For example when a whiplash injury occurs is another common cause of neck pain and headaches. Whiplash is usually associated with motor vehicle accidents, but it may also happen in a number of other scenarios such as in skiing accidents or falls from significant heights. In severe cases spinal cord injury may occur, requiring emergency care.
Acute Neck Pain
Symptoms can be sudden in onset and quite often people present to our clinics having woken up that morning with stiffness and pain.
The causes of this pain can be:
Common words used to describe the presenting pain can be a dull ache or a sharp pain, which is made worse by movement. In some situations it may restrict movement of your neck.
Acute Nerve Root Pain
Acute nerve root pain refers to when a nerve coming from the spinal cord gets compressed by a structure in the neck, usually from either irritation of a cervical disc or compromise of the intervertebral foramen (a small hole where nerves exit the spinal canal) due to the presence of osteophytes (bony outgrowths) or inflammation of nearby structures. Acute nerve root compression produces a sudden onset of pain usually in the arm. Neck pain may or may not be present. Pain may be associated with pins and needles, numbness or loss of strength/movement in the arm.
If you have or suspect you have an acute nerve root compression, you should book an assessment with one of our expert Physiotherapists.
Treatment for Neck Pain
Treatment for neck pain requires careful diagnosis and physiotherapy treatment depending on the condition. The goal of physiotherapy is to help you return to your prior level of functioning and assist you in living a pain-free life.
At Pall Mall Physio we have physiotherapists with a special interest in neck pain.