Neck Pain – causes, symptoms and treatment
Neck pain is a common presentation to physiotherapy clinics. Muscles, joints and nerves are different sources of neck pain. This may include muscle tightness or strains, joint sprains and dysfunction, joint degeneration, discal pain and nerve compression . Neck pain can arise suddenly from injury or can build over time from tightness, weakness and suboptimal postures . Pain may be referred into the head, upper back, shoulder, arm and hand. Other common symptoms accompanying neck pain are headaches, migraines, nausea, dizziness and jaw pain.
There are many different types of headaches and migraines. Headaches arising from neck pain are known as cervigogenic headaches. Pain is usually one-sided and is exacerbated by neck movements or postures . Presentation usually includes tightness in the surrounding muscles, especially the upper trapezius, levator scapulae, scalenes and suboccipital muscles [1,4]. Weakness is often present in the deep stabilising muscles of the neck, while the superficial muscles can become overactive [5,6,7]. Treatment begins with calming down the corresponding joints and muscles with manual therapy. Long-term management is guided toward strengthening the deep neck muscles and back muscles and improving postural habits.
Another presentation we see in our clinic is called an acute wry neck. Patients usually complain of waking up with moderate to severe pain. Their neck movement will often be severely restricted, usually worse to one side.
The neck can appear to be locked out of range but this is usually caused by muscle spasm rather than true joint locking. Wry necks can cause a lot of pain and stress to individuals but they can be well managed, especially if treatment is sought early. A strengthening program is often required to address any underline weakness or contributing factors.
If would like to discuss the management of patients experiencing neck pain, cervigogenic headaches or wry neck, please contact us today and we would be happy to help.
1.Goodman, C, Fuller, K. Pathology: Implications for the Physical Therapist. 3rd ed. St. Louis: Saunders Elsevier, 2009. 2. Grant Cooper, M., 2019. Types of Neck Pain. [online] Spine-health. Available at: <https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/types-neck-pain> [Accessed 21 May 2021]. 3. Jull G, Stanton W. Predictors of responsiveness to physiotherapy management of cervicogenic headache. Cephalalgia. 2005;25:101-108. 4. Page P. Cervicogenic headaches: an evidence-led approach to clinical management. International journal of sports physical therapy. 2011 Sep;6(3):254. 5. Jull G, Trott P, Potter H et al., A randomized controlled trial of exercise and manipulative therapy for cervicogenic headache: The cervical therapeutic exercise programme, Spine 2002 6. Page P, Cervicogenic headaches: An evidence-led approach to clinical management, The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, Volume 6, Nr 3, September 2011 7. McDonnell MK et al., A Specific Exercise Program and Modification of Postural Alignment for Treatment of Cervicogenic Headache: A Case Report, J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, Volume 35, Nr 1, January 2005
Can tech neck be reversed?
Spending lots of time on electronic devices can cause havoc with your neck! … So can tech neck be reversed? …. Yes it can! Improving posture when looking at screens and taking breaks is the easiest way to fix tech neck. Here’s some tips.
Keep your devices just below eye level
Look up from the screen & straighten your neck every 5 mins
Put the device away for 10 mins every hour
Perform neck and shoulder blade exercises and stretches
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints we see in the clinic. This pain can be caused by a specific incident / accident or can occur for no apparent reason.
We understand the impact low back pain can have on patients knowing it disrupts their lives, stops them working, playing sports and enjoying life. We also know that most patients who have one episode of low back pain usually end up having another episode and often another and another…This is often because their pain has settled but the underlying problem has not been addressed.
Research shows that when patients have lower back pain their stabilising muscles and core muscles can become inhibited and weak and do not spontaneously recover when their pain settles. Joints can also remain stiff. This leaves patients susceptible to re-injury and a reoccurrence of their pain.
Initial treatment for your pain and stiffness is really important because it makes you feel better and relives the pain. This treatment will allow you to get back to work, sports and daily life. However, if you have the pain treated, but do not correct your posture, your biomechanics and strength deficits, you are only receiving a “temporary relief” from your pain, and it is likely that your pain will reoccur. Once your pain has settled we then need to look at your underlying movement and postural issues so we can identify the problems and eliminate them.
Our physios can advise you on what you need to do to rebuild & restore your back. This may include a progressive strengthening program and functional exercise program. By developing exercise habits and an “exercise for life” mentality, you can be confident of getting on top of your back pain and living pain free.
Back pain? …. Here are 3 exercises to try at home
1. KNEES TO CHEST – Lying on the floor, pull both knees to your chest until a comfortable stretch is felt in your hips and low back. Hold for one inhale and one exhale. Repeat 5-10 times. If you cannot tolerate both legs, try one at a time.
2. lUMBAR ROTATION – Lying with your knees bent; slowly rock both knees to one side whilst keeping your shoulders on the floor. Take your knees as far as you can to the floor or until a comfortable stretch is felt in your low back. Hold for one inhale and one exhale. Repeat 5 times on each side.
3. CHILD’S POSE – Start on all fours, and then move back so that you sit your bottom onto your heels. Keep your hands outstretched in-front of you and sink into the position, feeling a stretch through your lower back and underarms. Hold for one inhale and one exhale, and then return to all fours. Repeat 5 times.
Staying active, healthy and strong as we age
The ability to move freely and easily is critical for functioning well and living independently as we get older
Our strength and balance exercise classes are designed specifically for our ‘over 60s’ clients who want to stay active and mobile.
The classes are fun, but challenging, and suitable for all levels of physical fitness. Importantly, our exercise programs are designed and run by our physiotherapists to ensure they are safe and effective for all participants.
Monday 11am / Tuesday 11am / Thursday 9am
Small physio led classes – $39 per class – Health Fund rebatable
Quick Physio Tip
With the arrival of spring and the warmer weather many people kick of their shoes and spend more time in barefeet or thongs. If you haven’t been shoe free for awhile it’s a good idea to gradually transition to barefoot walking. Here are a few quick tips …
- Limit the time you spend barefoot … then each day gradually increase your walking time shoe free.
- If you are at the beach and want to do some long walks on the sand consider wearing your joggers for the first half of the walk, and go barefoot on the way home.
- If you need to purchase in a new pair of thongs/flip flops … make sure they are supportive . There are some great options now that have good arch support.