Acute, sudden onset neck pain is incredibly common and will effect approximately 1 in 3 of us at some stage. Symptoms usually include pain (obviously), difficulty moving the neck, headaches, shoulder and/or arm pain. These can come on gradually over time or very suddenly.
While incredibly irritating and painful it is rarely due to a serious disease or injury. Below are some of the most common causes we see here at IFC.
Muscle strain, sprain or spasm:
This is by far the most common cause of pain. The neck and cervical spine are designed to support your skull and protect your spinal cord while also allowing for flexibility. This combination makes it, and the surrounding muscles, very vulnerable to injury.
· prolonged periods of time in awkward positions (too much time at your desk!)
· sleeping in strange positions (possibility after 1 or 2 too many…) or with rubbish pillows
· carrying heavy things on only one side of the body
· bad form while working out (obviously not with our boys at the gym)
· Any form of trauma that impacts the neck, such as whiplash, sports injuries or falls
Cervical Spondylosis (arthritis of the spine)
Like all the other joints in your body, your neck tends to undergoe some wear and tear with age. This condition affects more than 85% of people over the age of 60 and in many cases case be completely synmptom free. Although it is a type of arthrits it rarely becomes life limiting or crippling with good management.
- age related loss of intervertebral space resulting in increased pressure and degeneration/cartilage depletion
- bone spurs can then also be formed to help support the spine but at the expense of the spines mobility
Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve)
This condition is characterized by referred pain, numbness, pins and needles and/or tingling around your shoulders or arms.
- compression of a nerve root as it exits the spinal chord
- compression due to bulging intervertebral discs
How can IFC help?
Some available physiotherapy treatments from our teams extensive experience and supported by current research are:
- manual mobilisation of the individual vertebrae to help reduce pain, increase blood flow and range of motion
- specific exercises, to be completed at home or at the clinic. These aim to improve strength, coordination and endurance in the surrounding musculature
- postural re – education
- activity specific advice
Often with a course of physiotherapy symptoms can be dramatically reduced if not completed eliminated without the need for expensive investigation or medical treatment. This does however require taking the time to fully understand what’s going on and taking long term steps to prevent future flare ups.
When to seek medical help
As much as we would love to be able to fix everyone ourselves, our therapists and trainers are fully aware that at times further medical help is required.
Should you experience any of the following symptoms we would advise that you see your doctor ASAP:
- significant unexplained weight loss
- constant, severe pain that does not vary at all within a 24 hour period
- history of cancer, osteoporosis, TB, HIV and/or other systemic illness
- significant trauma i.e. a fall from a height
- constant, severe bilateral neurological sympotoms all the way down BOTH arms (unexplained weakness, pins and needles, burning and/or total numbness)
- UNEXPLAINED (so not just after a heavy night out) dizziness, nausea, double vision, trouble speaking and/or swallowing.
Moral of the story is you don’t have to put up with neck pain! There is plenty that can be done to get it sorted with very little effort. If you have any further questions feel free to give me a call, drop me an email or pop into the clinic for a cuppa.
See you soon,