Most people will experience neck pain at some point in their life. Neck pain can be acute, meaning it lasts a few hours to a few weeks or it can be chronic lasting several months or longer.

Sources of neck pain can include;

  • Muscles
  • Joints
  • Ligaments
  • Spinal discs

Pain can be isolated to the neck however it is also frequently associated with restricted neck movement, headaches, shoulder and arm pain.

Most causes of neck pain are not serious. Poor prolonged posture with a forward chin position and rounded shoulders are a common cause of neck pain e.g. sitting at a desk or hunching over a work bench. It is the prolonged strain placed upon the tissue structures within the neck that cause a build up of tension leading to pain and symptoms over time.

Physiotherapy management is usually effective in treating this type of neck pain. Treatment strategies may include;

  • Massage
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Heat
  • Postural correction and ergonomic advice
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises
  • Taping or bracing
  • Traction

Traumatic neck injuries are different in that the will usually occur from exposure to a high force causing excessive strain. This might be the rapid movement that is associated during a whiplash injury or lifting above ones own capacity. The management of this type of injury will depend on the structures that are injured. This will usually involve early intervention including inflammation control and pain management, followed by physiotherapy aimed at restoring normal movement, pain relief and appropriate rehabilitation exercises in order to return to normal activities. Early intervention here is crucial to a successful return to regular function.

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