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A Pain in the Neck

Posted By Melanie Roberts  
09:00 AM

Neck pain is a common problem in the current population. Occurrence of neck pain is thought to be on the rise, with occupation playing a major role. As we spend increased amounts of time in a seated position and perhaps, with our attention focused on a computer screen, the postural alignment of the middle segments of your spine and neck can be compromised and can eventually contribute to painful symptoms in this region. Pain in this region, the cervical spine, can also arise as a result of a motor vehicle accident, sporting injury, unplanned movements, or simply by sleeping in a poor position. There are many different potential sources of neck pain due to the complex anatomical nature of the cervical spine and its’ surrounding structures. For example, articulation with the base of the skull, presence of high amounts neural tissue, and close muscular connection with the shoulder girdle all contribute to the complexity of this region. An injury in the cervical spine can result in shoulder and upper limb symptoms and can also be the source of headaches. If not treated in its early phases, neck pain can often become a chronic issue, lasting for over 6 months, or even years. Physiotherapists utilize subjective information and objective measures to assess and determine appropriate, effective treatment for neck pain.  Quite often when an individual is experiencing neck pain, the patterns of their movement change in response to the pain, which only contributes to further symptoms of joint stiffness and muscle imbalance. Deep muscles that stabilize the spine may become weak, predisposing the individual to further injury and ongoing symptoms of pain. There is also the possibility of nerve root irritation, which, as mentioned previously, can manifest as a headache or pain, numbness or tingling sensation in the upper limb. Prescribed retraining of movement patterns, postural control, and strengthening, combined with hands-on therapy from your physiotherapist is an effective way to relieve symptoms of the neck pain and prevent recurrence of injury in the future.