Today’s modern living often entails hours of driving and hunching over workstations, which can play havoc with our necks. So it is no surprising that neck pain is the second most common condition that physiotherapists treat. Whilst neck pain is less common than low back pain, millions of people experience neck pain and related arm pain at some stage in their lives and therefore seek physiotherapy.
It results from abnormalities in the soft tissues – muscles, ligaments, and nerves, as well as in the bone and the joints of the spine. The most common causes that physiotherapists identify and treat are soft tissue abnormalities from injury or prolonged wear and tear and in many people it is also the source of pain in the upper back, shoulders and arms.
When neck pain is caused by muscle strain, you may have aches and stiffness that spread to the upper arm and forearm. Shooting pain that spread down the arm into the hand and fingers can be a symptom of a “pinched nerve” or nerve entrapment in the neck. When a nerve is “pinched” in the neck, numbness, weakness and possibly pain of the hands or arms may occur. Disc injuries are rare but it is the most common cause of nerve entrapments.
Injuries to the neck caused by a sudden movement of the head backwards and forwards or sideways, are referred to as “whiplash”. Whether from a car accident, sporting injury or an accident at work, whiplash or neck injuries warrant a thorough examination.
Whiplash is most commonly suffered as a result of a road traffic accident. An impact or collision causes the head to suddenly jerk back and forth beyond its normal limits.
Wear and Tear, Osteoarthritis or Joint Degeneration occurs due to the accumulation of stresses and trauma over time. Throughout life the spine is required to withstand considerable weight bearing strain, purely as a result of the pressures of daily living. The overall effects of degenerative changes of the spine, leads to a feeling of stiffness and reduced spinal mobility. However, just like any other part of the body, the better care that is taken of the spine, the less degeneration is likely to occur.
Physiotherapy is usually very effective for neck pain.