Neck pain is a common condition that can be very disabling often affecting our sleep and our ability to enjoy our usual activities. With good advice and appropriate treatment it should resolve within a few weeks but if poorly managed the painful symptoms can persist for much longer.
What causes neck pain?
Stress – when we’re stressed we often tense the muscles surrounding the head neck and shoulders leading to muscle fatigue, tension and pain.
Sleeping in an awkward position – often we wake up with a painful neck from sleeping in a poor position or on an unfamiliar bed or pillow. This can cause joints in the neck to become stiff, limiting your range of movement and causing joint and muscular pain.
Sustained postures – our bodies were not designed to sit still for long periods of time. Our muscles in our neck and shoulders become fatigued from sustained postures causing stiffness and pain in the joints and muscles.
Cervical spondylosis – This is a form of osteoarthritis that affects the neck. It can cause the neck to feel stiff and painful.
What are the symptoms?
- Pain that is aggravated by particular movements, posture, and activities.
- Pain that radiates down the arm, up into the head, into the shoulder, or across the shoulder blade.
- Pain associated with pins and needles or highly sensitised areas.
- Muscle imbalance and imbalanced posture, limited range of movements often affecting just one side of the body or neck.
- Tenderness in the joints and muscles often with muscle spasm and areas of tightness that feel like tender bands or knots.
What is the best way to manage neck pain?
Try to stay mobile with gentle neck movements- see our exercise suggestions below
Use heat and gentle massage strokes to release tension in the muscles that feel tight
Relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathing sequences
Workstation set up to maximise comfort and decrease load on the neck and shoulders
NICE guidelines updated in 2015 recommend that Physiotherapists use a programme of exercises and manual therapy and consideration of a course of acupuncture alongside these modalities to help improve pain symptoms and function.
3 pictures- exercise, manual therapy, acupuncture.
Supine chin nod on over ball- centre of the ball level with the centre of the ear. Ball acting like a fulcrum – something to pivot on. If you don’t have an over ball use a rolled up towel
Standing neck rotations with Thera-band pushing back on thighs- progress to standing on one leg
Supine shoulder pulls with rotations
Cork screw thoracic rotations
Side lying arms in W head on block rotate one arm away