What a Pain in the Neck!
Neck pain is a common problem, with over two-thirds of Australians suffering from the complaint at some stage in their life.
The main causes of neck pain are injuries and bad postural alignment. it is important to understand the reason for your neck pain as this will be the key to ensuring it is correctly treated and does not become an ongoing problem.
First, a little bit of anatomy. The neck consists of seven bones called the cervical vertebrae, upon which your head is balanced, which weighs around five kilograms. The vertebrae are seperated from each other by discs and are held upright by their interlocking shape and a series of supporting ligaments and muscles. The muscles around the neck and shoulders also work to move the neck and control the position the head to allow you to look around.
The anatomy of the neck really is a wonderful creation. It allows your head and neck to be very mobile, however it is because of this mobility that the neck can easily be injured, resulting in pain.
Neck injuries commonly occur as a result of motor vehicle, occupational or sports injuries. A neck injury can result in damage to the vertebrae and joints of the neck, or to the muscles, ligaments and discs. In some cases people with neck pain will also experience symptoms arising from the nerves that exit the spine from the neck area. The most common nerve symptoms are altered sensation such as pins and needles or numbness, aching or reduced sensitivity especially in the arms and hands. These symptoms will generally resolve as the neck pain resolves.
Whiplash is a commonly occuring neck injury. Whiplash describes the rapid acceleration and deceleration (forwards and backwards movement) of the head and neck, usually the result of a motor vehicle or sporting accident.
Postural Neck Pain
Posture is becoming an increasingly common cause of neck pain seen by Physiotherapists. Postural neck pain arises from maintaining sustained positions that cause the structures of the neck to sit in awkward positions for long periods. These positions usually require the muscles supporting and moving the neck and head to be utilised differently, often requiring them to work harder causing fatigue and pain.
The rising presentations of postural neck pain can be attributed to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle with more time spent in front of computers, tablets and mobile devices.
What to do about it?
If you are suffering from neck pain there are some steps you can take at home to ease your symptoms. The Australian Physiotherapy Association has produced a series of exercises that can be used to prevent and manage neck pain. An instructional video is available here. However, the best way to manage your neck pain is to have it assessed by a qualified health professional like your Physiotherapist. A Physiotherapist will identify the reason for your neck pain and provide proven, effective treatment to help you on the road to recovery.
To book to see a Physiotherapist at Artius or for more information contact us here or call 1300 ARTIUS.