A stiff or painful neck is often associated with sleeping in an awkward position, prolonged computer use, muscle strain, or linked with bad posture. Research suggests that stress and anxiety can also cause tension in your neck muscles, which may lead to neck pain or worsen an existing problem.
Discomfort will often resolve very quickly, but if symptoms persist for more than a couple of days then you would benefit from our expert physiotherapy treatment for neck pain.
When should I see a physiotherapist.
- Reduction in range of movement of neck.
- Severe, lasting pain or ache around the neck.
- Inability to complete your normal physical activities.
- Recurring sharp or shooting pains in neck
- Referral of pain from neck to shoulder blades.
- Frequent tension headaches
Some of the common causes and types of Neck Pain
Simple Neck Ache
Derived from muscle and soft tissue tension or strain causing stiffness and pain in the neck and shoulders. Especially common in people who work in desk jobs. Neck pain can be further complicated by poor posture and/or inappropriate workstation set-up. This is where our ergonomics and workplace assessment can have a significant beneficial effect.
Neck pain with Radiculopathy (trapped nerve)
Neck pain can also be caused by compression of adjacent spinal nerves exiting the spinal cord affecting the nerves going to the arms. This can be due to a disc herniation or a narrowing of foramina from which the nerve exits. This is commonly known as a ‘trapped nerve’ and in severe cases may cause weakness in the muscle or numbness in the certain area of the arm. This type of pain can be very debilitating, and often people require not only expert treatment, but specific neuropathic medication to help in the acute stages of this type of pain in order for a client to be able to sleep as this can be very disturbed.
Whiplash is caused by a sudden jolt, which causes the head and neck to jerk forwards quickly due to the impact, and then immediately ‘whip’ backwards in a whiplash fashion. It is generally linked to road traffic accident but can also be caused by other trauma including contact sport collisions. It is essentially a soft tissue injury to lots of muscles and soft tissues in the neck, shoulders and upper back. The most effective way to treat this type of neck pain, once assessed by our Chartered Physiotherapist, is to commence gentle neck range of movement exercises and to gradually and gently return to normal activities. In the early stages, taking non steroidal anti inflammatory tablets, guided by GP or pharmacist, and over the counter paracetamol is helpful. Our Chatered Physiotherapist will prescribe the appropriate movement exercises and help to alleviate muscle and soft tissue pain with manual therapy and gentle soft tissue mobilisation.
Wry neck or torticollis or creaked neck
Wry neck is a complaint where you develop neck pain and stiffness, which is often accompanied by spasm of the surrounding neck muscles. This causes neck pain and an inability to turn your neck through its full range of motion.
Wry neck is an extremely common condition, which can be quite disabling as the sufferer experiences constant severe pain with simple neck movements. Luckily wry neck treatment is normally very successful in a short-period of time
This is caused by an irritation of the joints at the back of your neck called facet joints. These allow smooth gliding movement of your neck between vertebrae. A common reported history is to wake up with a stiff painful neck after an uncomfortable nights sleep or a sudden movement during the night or on waking such as alarm. The treatment for this generally entails settling muscle spasm through massage or dry needling (link). We can then try to normalise the joint range of motion with joint mobilisation(see link). You may need some non steroidal anti inflammatory tablets, guided by GP or pharmacist, or over the counter paracetamol, to settle the pain initially and allow normal sleep to resume. As lets be honest a good night sleep is so important for recovery. The good news is that this settles relatively quickly with treatment but it is important to return the joint movement and muscle tone to normal to prevent a regular occurrence.
Other neck conditions that we treat are:
- Cervicogenic Headaches – (will do a description of this at some stage)
- Nerve tension and neural entrapment
- Facet joint dysfunction
- Muscle Spasm
- Postural conditions