Neck pain, like low back pain is one of the most common conditions we treat at Newcastle Physiotherapy. Again, like low back pain poor posture and lack of exercise is one of the main causes of neck pain.
Symptoms can be:
- In the centre of the neck
- To the right
- To the left
- Radiating up towards the head
- Radiating down towards the arms or shoulder blades
Pain can be:
Aggravating activities can include:
- Prolonged sitting
- Rotating the neck
- Looking up or down
- Reading, sewing or knitting
- Swimming with the head up
Easing Activities can include:
- Neck or cervical roll
- Changing posture
Many of us now spend much of our time sitting. We get up in the morning and sit down for breakfast, we then jump into the car and drive to work. Once we’re at work many of us have desk jobs which can lead us to sit for up to 8 hours per day. When we’ve finished work, we sit in the car and drive home, maybe have a cuppa whilst sitting on the sofa and later on we’re at the dining table to eat our evening meal. That’s a lot of sitting!
Our bodies are designed to move, not sit for long periods. The joints in our spine (facet joints) are called synovial joints because they secrete synovial fluid. Synovial fluid lubricates the joints and provides them with nutrition, but here’s the snag – it is only secreted when we move them. When insufficient synovial fluid is secreted into our joints, they become stiff and painful.
Excessive sitting also places stress on the intervertebral discs. The discs sit between each vertebrae and their job is to create space, evenly distribute load and provide shock absorption.
The disc has two main component parts, the annulus and the nucleus. The annulus is like the outer shell of a tomato ketchup sachet and the nucleus is like the ketchup inside. With the disc, there is a hydrostatic mechanism similar to that of the ketchup sachet. For example, if you were to place the sachet on a table and place pressure on one end, the ketchup would move the opposite end. The disc is the same.
When we sit, particularly when slouched with a ‘poked chin posture’, the front of the annulus is compressed, causing the nucleus to squeeze towards the back of the disc. This is normal, however if this pressure is placed upon the disc too frequently (if we sit for too long too often) or if the pressure is too great (if we bend over to lift a heavy load) we can cause bulging to the back of the disc. This bulging can cause soft tissue damage which in turn can cause local swelling and inflammation. There are many structures housing pain receptors such as the vertebrae, spinal nerves, ligaments, muscles and other soft tissues in close proximity to the disc. Once they become stimulated we experience pain.
Other causes of neck pain include degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis, spondylosis, ankylosing spondylitis, and osteoporosis, trauma following a sports injury or road traffic accident for example and other non-mechanical medical conditions can refer pain to our neck.
How we treat
At Newcastle Physiotherapy we recommend a thorough assessment in order to diagnose the cause of your neck pain. It is imperative to receive the correct diagnosis in order to treat the condition successfully. At Newcastle Physiotherapy, neck pain is one of our specialties so you can be confident in accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment designed specifically for you.
We may use an array of treatment approaches, dependent on your condition which may include:
- Joint mobilisation and manipulation
- Specific soft tissue massage and mobilisation
- Progressive core stability and functional exercise rehabilitation
- Postural and ergonomic advice
- Muscle Energy techniques
- Acupuncture and dry needling
- Sports and functional fascial taping
If we decide that your condition requires further investigation such as X-ray or MRI imaging we also have the facility to refer you privately if you so wish. You will usually be offered an appointment time with 48 hours and receive your results with 3-5 days.