Neck pain is a very common condition that can be very disabling. It can often refer pain into the shoulder or down the arm. There are many causes of neck pain; like ‘whiplash’ or sporting injury, and sustained postures at work can increase neck pain as can stiffness or arthritis in the joints of the neck.
What causes neck pain?
Neck pain can be caused by muscle, joints or nerves in the neck or a combination of all three. The specific structures causing neck pain can be identified at assessment. Research suggests that physiotherapists are very good at identifying the exact area responsible for a patients pain; once identified this area can be treated appropriately.
A common cause of neck pain is excessive stiffness in the joints further down the spine at the base of the neck and between the shoulders. It is thought that stiffness in these areas causes excessive stress through the areas further up causing them to become overworked and painful. Recent research suggests that certain patients benefit greatly from manipulation of these stiff areas with large improvements achieved over one or two treatment sessions.
Personalised treatment plans are likely to include:
- Mobilising or manipulating stiff joints in the neck
- Treating tension and muscle spasm (trigger points) in the muscles of the neck.
- Retraining and strengthening muscles around the neck
- A home exercise program to increase and maintain strength and flexibility of the neck
- And postural education and advice (including taping if necessary) to prevent re-occurrence.