Neck pain is one of the most debilitating problems we treat, with two out of three of us suffering with neck pain at some time in our life. Lets explore the different types of neck pain
Mechanical Neck Pain
Mechanical neck pain is probably the most common type. Bad posture is often a contributing factor and can be more common in those who work at a desk. This can cause the muscles in the front of the neck to become lengthened and weak, and the muscles at the back to become shortened and tight! Our movement patterning and ultimately our biomechanics are altered causing stress and strains to the muscles and joints.
Whiplash occurs when there is a sudden jolt to the neck, most commonly due to a car accident. This type of injury can often be very distressing due to the nature of the trauma involved. Fortunately, our necks are resilient and serious injury rarely occurs. Muscle spasm is common in order to protect the neck and this can be very painful and cause reduced range of movement. Despite this, moving the neck in the early stages is the best treatment.
Degeneration, sometimes called cervical spondylosis is a common cause of persistent neck pain in older people. Over the age of 50, we can expect some degree of degeneration, often without any symptoms.
Degeneration results in the edges of the vertebrae developing small, rough areas of bone knowns as osteophytes. This causes joint stiffness, meaning normal neck movement can be painful and restricted. Pain can vary, with flare ups and disturbed sleep patterns.
Cervical radiculopathy occurs when the nerves in the cervical region are irritated. This not only causes pain, but there may be symptoms such as numbness, pins and needles and areas of weakness. Avoiding repetitive tasks and movements that aggravates symptoms is very important and seeing your GP for adequate pain relief is recommended.
Treating Neck Pain
As mentioned above, pain relief and/or anti-inflammatories can be a great help in managing pain in the short term and we would recommend discussing this with your GP.
The use of heat and cold treatment is also recommended.
Basic exercises to include range of movement, stretches and strengthening can be very beneficial in easing pain. Posture also plays large part in this to restore an optimal movement pattern.
Booking in to see a physiotherapist will ensure you are provided with the exercises suited to your individual needs and see you return to those activities you are struggling with. Hands on treatment may also be provided to provide some relief. If you wish to visit one of our specialists, click here to book.