Non-specific Neck Pain
Non-specific neck pain is the most common type. This is sometimes called “simple” or “mechanical” neck pain. Often the exact cause or origin of the pain is not known. It may include minor strains and sprains to muscles or ligaments in the neck.
Bad posture may also be a contributing factor in some cases. For example, neck pain is more common in people who spend much of their working day at a desk, with a ‘bent-forward’ posture. It is a complaint and one which we see most commonly in our clinic.
Some of the other common conditions that we treat are:
- Postural neck pain
- Acute neck pain
- Nerve root pain
- Whiplash injury
Postural Neck Pain
This is the result of prolonged postures or positions that can affect joint surfaces, muscles or tendons. Pain may be local and reproducible with end range positions (as far as you can move into pain), such as slouching, are maintained for sustained periods of time.
We tend to see a lot of office workers who spend prolonged periods of time at their computer with this type of problem. Symptoms are usually relieved with movement. Patients usually respond to a specific exercise program and work station assessment (DSE ) display screen assessment.
It is correctable and usually fairly swift to recover with the appropriate treatment and advice.
Acute Neck Pain / Torticollis
Torticollis the Latin torti, meaning twisted and collis, meaning neck manifests as involuntary contractions of the neck muscles. Acute neck pain is a common and very painful injury characterised by a sudden onset of sharp neck pain with limitation of movement. It commonly occurs during a sudden quick movement or on waking; you can alternatively wake up like this.
Treatment specifically is aimed at settling down the associated muscle spasm.
- This may be achieved by using
- Thermo or cryotherapy.
- Soft tissue muscle energy techniques
- Exercise and electrotherapy when deemed necessary
- Massage techniques
- Home exercise program/muscle balance re-education
Nerve Root Pain
Nerve root pain comes from a nerve in the spine. Nerves carry messages about sensations and control of muscles and so disorders of nerves can cause pain, numbness, increased sensitivity or weakness of muscles. The pain is often felt in the area of the body supplied by that nerve. It is common for the leg nerves and arm nerves to be affected.
Lumbar nerve pain (often called ‘sciatica’) generally goes below the knee. Back pain is usually felt between the lower ribs and the buttocks. Often there will be a combination of back and leg pains. In sciatica the leg pain is worse than the back pain. Sciatica is usually caused by a disc prolapse (a ‘slipped disc’), but there are other causes.
Brachial neuralgia (nerve pain in the arm) is very similar to sciatica but comes from the neck nerves. Sometimes the pain goes down the arm as far as a specific finger.
“Radicular pain” is a term doctors use to describe pain when it is mainly from a single nerve root.
Whiplash Injury / Road Traffic Accidents
When a car is struck from the rear it is accelerated forward which causes the seat-back to push against the body and propel it forward while the head lags behind until the neck reaches its structural limit.
The head is then suddenly accelerated by the neck like the tip of a whip which is where the term “whiplash” originates. Properly constructed and adjusted head rests (restraints) limit the damage to the neck before the head starts to follow the body. This is called a hyperextention flexion injury. We are specialists in the management of these conditions.
Road traffic accidents are a common cause of musculoskeletal injury. These injuries are caused by both direct trauma and, in the case of “whiplash”, the acceleration / deceleration associated with a road traffic accident.
These injuries are often very debilitating and require early assessment and treatment by our physiotherapists. Any area of the body can be injured and the severity is often dependent on the size and direction of the impact received.
We examine and treat many cases of whiplash in medico legal cases; we adopt an evidenced based approach to the problem as set out in the CSP guidelines on WAD.
Whiplash can also be caused by high impact activity such as rugby or football and treatment is tailored to ensure a safe graded recovery back to your chosen sport.
Good clinical evaluation of the problem is essential in all of the above conditions; this forms the key to a successful outcome. Some of the treatment approaches are listed below:
- Specific joint and soft tissue mobilisation
- Home exercise both verbal and written which needs to be adaptable to your particular condition.
- Electrotherapy in those case of acute pain.
- Acupuncture is sometimes a useful adjunct to treatment
- Office and working environmental assessment also is taken into account on your overall management.
- Postural advice ergonomic advice.
- Core strength and stability training to avoid imbalance and inactivity
- Trigger point therapy
Success of neck surgery depends a lot on what happens in the pre and postoperative stages. It is important to maximise the surgery by doing exercises that help to stabilise, mobilise and protect the area. Your consultant may also recommend you have some sort of pre-operative intervention, we are ideal suited.
Physio Team-Works will be able to guide you through these stages of rehabilitation. We can assist in monitoring your progress, setting your goals, and providing appropriate treatment to maximise your recovery potential.
We can also inform you of how you can help your own recovery, and what should be avoided. You will be provided a specific rehabilitation programme, and we aim to back to your full levels of activity and/or sport as quickly as possible.
Call 01457 837 211 or complete our quick online form to arrange an appointment.