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Neck Pain

What is neck (cervical) pain?

The cervical vertebrae is comprised of the seven bones that form the neck. Linked together by facet joints, these bones work with the neck muscles, so you can move your head in any direction. The other main part of your neck’s structure is the discs of cartilage that are in between the bones, which are known as intervertebral discs.

While the neck bones will help support your head and protect the spinal cord, the nerve roots that branch out of your intervertebral discs are responsible for sending sensations, such as touch and pain to the brain.

Your neck is quite mobile, which is why neck pain is so common, however, it’s rarely a cause for alarm. If you do experience any pain or discomfort, a physiotherapist will be the most qualified person to diagnose and treat the pain. To give you an idea of the type of instigators you’re dealing with, listed below are some common causes of neck pain.

Your neck, like most vital parts of your body, is susceptible to every day wear and tear. Cervical spondylosis occurs when the discs in your neck become thinner, the facet joints become worn, and the spaces between the bones become narrower. This natural wear can spark the development of osteophytes (spurs of bone) on the edges of the vertebrae and facet joints. These osteophytes are what trigger the pain and stiffness in your neck.

Painkillers can be taken to ease your discomfort, but exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles in your neck will also assist with pain relief.

Whiplash commonly occurs as a result of a car accident. This is because the body will be thrown forward, and the head flipped back at the point of impact. Then, as your body jolts to a stop, your head will be abruptly thrown forward.

Whiplash can cause severe strain on your neck, however, it usually resolves itself after a few weeks or months, depending on the severity. Gentle neck exercises should also be performed to keep the neck mobile as it recovers, which will also help prevent any form of long-term problems.

Slouching your shoulders with your head pushed forward, sleeping with your head in an awkward position, or working with your head down for long periods of time can all cause neck pain. This is because when your muscles tire, your neck joints and nerves are put under too much pressure, which results in neck pain and headaches.

Improving your posture and undertaking gentle neck strengthening exercises can prevent these symptoms.

If stress and poor posture combined are creating extra tension in your neck, you’ll probably just need to focus on relaxing your muscles to ease/prevent the pain you’re experiencing.

There are two types of wry neck, acute wry neck and facet joint wry neck.

Acute wry neck is quite painful and will make moving your neck almost impossible. This condition can be seen at any age but is common among teenagers. If your child experiences this pain, it could be a sign of something worse, so make sure you consult a doctor straight away.

Facet joint wry neck is when your neck joints lock, which will restrict your movement and cause a lot of pain. This type of wry neck usually needs to be treated by a physiotherapist, who will unlock the joints for you.

Preventative Measures

The best way to avoid creating any unnecessary strain on your neck is to try and relax your neck muscles, undertake regular strengthening and lengthening exercises, and to maintain good posture, especially if you work in an office environment.

If you’re one of the many people who are looking for professional assistance in overcoming neck pain, please don’t hesitate to contact us at On The Go Rehab.

We have a team of experienced physiotherapists who help people everyday with neck pain relief, chronic neck pain treatment, or serious neck injury rehabilitation programs.