A Pain in the Neck!

There are many reasons why we may experience neck pain.

It could be related to a specific trauma, an accident or arthritis. Your posture can also play a huge part in developing neck pain or discomfort. There are different symptoms which may occur during an episode of neck pain all of which can be quite worrying or disabling for the individual involved. Our Chartered Physiotherapist Rebecca Wyatt talks about neck pain and what you can do should you find yourself with “a pain in the neck”.

It is estimated that two thirds of the population will experience neck pain of varying duration at some point throughout their lives. Neck pain and other musculoskeletal disorders (such as low back pain) are the main cause for taking sick days, which has a significant impact on all industries costing the United Kingdom in excess of an estimated £1 billion pounds.

What causes neck pain?

The following list is an example of different causes of neck pain which may or may not be producing your symptoms:

  • Acute Inflammation- this can be of muscle and soft tissue, nerve roots, intervertebral discs or facet joints. All of these can cause significant pain in the neck and upper shoulders.
  • Degenerative changes- such as arthritis which could be due to age-related processes, a previous trauma or a pre-existing condition.
  • Whiplash Associated Disorder- if you have been in a road traffic accident this can cause neck pain as well as headaches
  • Serious conditions- such as cancer, fractures and infections

This list is not exhaustive and there are other factors which can lead to developing neck pain such as occupation, poor posture and sporting activities. It is not the scope of this blog to be able to cover all of the conditions which can occur in the neck, however if you have a pre-existing problem or have anything you wish to discuss call one of our skilled team of Physiotherapists at Lilliput Health who will be able to provide you with professional advice.

Symptoms of neck pain

The symptoms you experience during an episode of neck pain can vary. Examples of possible symptoms can include:

  • Pain on neck movement- whether this be when turning or looking down
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • General stiffness of the neck and feeling like you have “lost” range of movement
  • Referred pain- this can include pain experienced in the upper limbs, shoulders and mid back. Sometimes people experience pins and needles or numbness instead of pain in their upper limbs.
  • Pain which is aggravated by certain activities such as prolonged poor posture, lifting items and driving
  • Pain which is predominantly ‘one-sided’ or as clinically termed ‘unilateral’.

It is important to understand the cause of your symptoms and seek appropriate advice or help. If your pain is causing you to struggle a trip to your GP is the first port of call. Your GP will be able to prescribe you with adequate pain relief medication which is important to take even if you “don’t like tablets”. Being in less pain will allow you to function better and will also help you to be more comfortable when you are trying to rest. Should your symptoms persist more than 12-24hours it is advisable to consult a Physiotherapist.

What can a Physiotherapist do?

A Chartered Physiotherapist will take a detail verbal history from you of your symptoms their duration and of your medical background (e.g. whether this is a first time experience or a recurrence of an old problem). Next a physio will carry out a physical assessment. This will involve observing your posture and alignment, the range of movement of your neck (noting which is the most problematic) and palpating through the bony and soft tissue anatomy of your neck and upper shoulders. The combination of the verbal and physical assessment will help to guide the Physiotherapist into giving you a diagnosis and reason for your neck pain. Your physio will then be able to advise you on the best treatment approach and whether any further investigations such as X-rays or MRI’s are needed.

How can I arrange to see a Physiotherapist?

Lilliput Health in Poole is a private musculoskeletal clinic with a four-strong team of experienced Chartered Physiotherapists who are ready to help with all types of neck pain. We have appointments available daily from 8am til 8pm on weekdays and 8am til 1pm on Saturdays. You can book an appointment directly with us by calling our clinic on 01202 725090 and our friendly reception team will help find a time to suit you. Alternatively you can email us at info@lilliputhealth.co.uk .