Neck Pain

What is Neck Pain?

Neck pain is a very common condition which is often due to muscle strains and tension. Other causes include injuries, for example whiplash or changes in bones or joints.

Although symptoms are primarily felt in the neck, other symptoms can include

  • Mid and upper back pain
  • Arm pain,
  • Chest pain,
  • Headaches,
  • Dizziness,
  • Jaw pain, and
  • Pins and needles or numbness.

You don’t normally need an X-Ray or scan. Most of the time the injury cannot be seen on scans and recover within a few days without the need for treatment.

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 (e.g., due to poor manual handlingtechniques at home or work).
  • Individual factors – degenerative discs and joints.
  • 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:

  1. Avoid static positions for long periods of time and keep active.
  2. Low impact exercise such gentle neck movements, Yoga and Pilates can be a good starting point. Gentle strengthening exercises are also key in preventing further episodes of neck pain.
  3. 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.
  4. Apply gentle heat and massage to reduce muscle spasm and pain.
  5. Ensure you are following all manual handlingtechniques 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

  1. Assess your symptoms,
  2. Help you understand your condition
  3. Help identify the factors that may have caused or aggravating your symptoms and providing advice on how to minimise these,
  4. Develop symptom management strategies so you always feel in control
  5. Provide an individualised exercise program to improve mobility and strength to address symptoms but also to prevent future episodes.

While neck pain is 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

No matter whether your condition was caused by a sport, work accident or otherwise, we welcome the chance to serve you.

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