Is Physiotherapy Good For Neck Pain?
What Is Neck Pain, And How Is It Caused?
Neck pain is a very common problem that physiotherapists can treat. Neck pain and stiffness can be caused by structures such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs and nerves. Neck pain can also originate from or transfer to surrounding areas such as the upper back, shoulders or jaw. It can also travel up into the head, causing headaches at the back of the head, the eyes or around the front of the head and temples. These headaches are called cervicogenic or tension headaches. Physiotherapy for neck pain and headaches is extremely effective, as it works to relieve your pain, and identifies and addresses the underlying cause of your problem to ensure that it does not reoccur in the future.
Common Neck Injuries
Some common neck injuries include acute wry neck, a bulging disc, whiplash and postural neck pain. Physiotherapy management of neck pain is effective in all these conditions. Keep reading below for a description of each injury.
Acute Wry Neck
An acute wry neck is when you are unable to turn your neck or tilt it in one direction. People often wake up with their neck in a ‘locked’ position and experience sharp pain when trying to move. It can be caused by lifting something heavy and straining the neck, or sleeping in an awkward position. The neck muscles spasm on one side and prevent the joints from moving. Physiotherapy for a stiff neck helps to relieve pain through gentle joint mobilisations and massage of the muscles to release the spasms.
A bulging disc can occur due to gradual age-related degeneration, poor posture, repetitive activities, heavy lifting or trauma such as a fall or car accident. Sometimes a bulging disc can irritate the nerves nearby which can cause referred pain to the shoulder or down the arm, and in more severe cases can cause pins and needles or numbness. Most patients respond well to physiotherapy for neck pain caused by a bulging disc as it is effective in alleviating pain, and the exercises prescribed will strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles to help support the disc.
A whiplash injury occurs when the head is thrown forcefully forwards and backwards; overstretching the muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. Whiplash can cause severe neck pain, stiffness and often headaches. It can also affect the nerves, resulting in pins and needles or numbness down the arm. Whiplash injuries need to be treated early to avoid chronic long term problems. Physiotherapy management of neck pain as a result of whiplash involves massage and joint mobilisations to address muscle spasm and joint stiffness. It also involves stretching and strength work to rebuild your strength and flexibility around the neck and shoulders.
Postural And Work-Related Neck And Shoulder Pain
Postural and work-related neck and shoulder pain is a common problem for office workers.
Many work-related factors such as awkward postures, duration of sitting and repetitive hand and finger movements have been associated with a high incidence of neck pain. People who are sedentary and sit at a desk all day for work are more likely to develop neck pain, as they often don’t consider their workstation set up. For example, many people adopt a head down or head forward position when using their computer or hand-held electronic devices. Maintaining poor posture throughout the day can result in developing weakness in your deep neck muscles and muscles between the shoulder blades, as well as developing tightness in the front or top of your shoulders.
It is important to make sure your workspace is designed to promote well aligned posture. Physiotherapy for neck pain will include education on how to best set up your workstation so that your neck is held in a better position. We give advice on how often you should take breaks at work or when studying, what exercises you can do during the day at work, and the best form of exercise or fitness that you can do to prevent neck pain from returning.
How Can Physiotherapy Help With Neck Pain?
Physiotherapy management of neck pain involves a thorough assessment to look at your range of motion, flexibility and strength. We assess your muscles and joints to identify any areas of stiffness, tightness or weakness. Manual techniques such as massage and joint mobilisations are used to help loosen up the stiff joints and tight muscles, which thereby helps to alleviate pain. Physiotherapy for neck pain also involves ultrasound, heat packs and TENS to help with pain relief. An individually tailored exercise program will be designed by your Physiotherapist to target your specific needs. This will often involve stretches to help restore movement and address your tight muscles, as well as strengthening exercises to rebuild the muscles around the neck and shoulders. If you go to the gym we can also offer you advice on what other exercises you can do at the gym to help prevent the problem from recurring.
Contact Us Today For Neck Pain Advice, Treatment And Help.
If you are suffering from a stiff neck, headaches or neck pain and would like some further advice or treatment, feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 9875 3760. We would be more than happy to help.