What is Neck Pain
Neck pain is a very common condition which in most cases is due to simple sprains and strains which cannot be seen on scans and recover quickly without the need for treatment.
Although symptoms are primarily felt in the neck, other symptoms can include
- Mid and upper back pain
- Arm pain,
- Chest pain,
- Jaw pain, and
- Pins and needles or numbness.
What Causes Neck Pain?
Neck pain can occur following physical trauma (such as a road traffic collision or fall), however, the likelihood of developing symptoms and the severity of symptoms depends on a combination of factors including
- Static or awkward postures
- Repeated or excessive stress on the neck (eg due to poor manual handling techniques at home or work)
- Individual factors – being female, increasing age and pregnancy all increase the likelihood of developing pain.
- Physical wellbeing factors – smoking, obesity and poor general fitness all increase the likelihood of developing pain and the length of time it takes to recover.
- Psychological wellbeing factors – stress, depression and anxiety all increase the likelihood of developing pain and even increase the severity of pain and the length of time it takes to recover.
How can I help myself?
Most cases of neck pain will resolve quickly without the need for treatment, however, your attitude and the actions you take are the most important factors in preventing long-term problems. The most effective way to manage symptoms of neck pain are to
- Avoid static positions for long periods of time and keep active. Low impact exercise such as yoga, pilates and swimming can be a good starting point. Exercise is also key in preventing further episodes of neck pain.
- Talk to your GP or pharmacist about what pain relief may be right for you. If your pain is controlled, you will be able to maintain more movement.
- Apply gentle heat to reduce muscle spasm and pain.
- Ensure you are following all manual handling techniques correctly at home and work – keep the load close to your waist, use your legs to lift, lower or push loads as these are the most powerful muscles in the body, and work within your capability.
When should I seek further help?
If symptoms are worsening after 1 week of trying the above strategies, contact your GP surgery for further assistance. They may refer you to a physiotherapist who can
- Assess your symptoms,
- Help you understand your condition
- Help identify the factors that may be have caused or be aggravating your symptoms and providing advice on how to minimise these,
- Develop symptom management strategies so you always feel in control
- Provide an individualised exercise program to improve mobility and strength in order to address symptoms but also to prevent future episodes.
While neck pain in rarely due to anything serious, you should attend A&E urgently if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Immediate severe pain following an incident,
- Severe constant headaches,
- Loss of balance/co-ordination,
- Double vision,
- Persistent dizziness,
- Slurred speech,
- Difficulty swallowing,
- Loss of bladder or bowel control, or
- Numbness or pins and needles in BOTH arms or BOTH legs.
Contact us today