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Neck pain

Updated: Apr 14



Are you waking first thing in the morning with neck pain? Unexplainable aching and tight muscles in your neck at the end of your working day? Thumping headaches where you are unable to think? What’s the cause and why are you having persistent pain in your neck?


It’s not always a simple answer as to why you’re getting pain and what’s the source or structure in the neck or body that’s causing it, but it’s likely there’s a number of contributing factors. Instead of using Dr. Google trying to figure out the root cause of your problem, it is best to consult with a health professional. When diagnosing neck pain and those contributing factors to your specific struggles, your physiotherapist will be looking to piece together a story of your recent and or longer-term experiences and identify those causative factors such as work or environmental to how they can affect the neck. Based on initial conversations a tailored assessment will then be conducted where your physio can then identify restrictions or irregularities in range of motion, movement qualities, and strength that may cause your pain. From these findings, a treatment and management plan can be discussed and implemented together to improve your symptoms and more importantly assist with achieving your goals.


So where’s the pain coming from or why’s it there? Firstly we need to know what makes up the neck or otherwise known as the cervical spine. Our neck is made up of the bones or vertebrae and joints of the spine; discs that act as shock absorbers between the bones; the nerves which branch out and control upper body movements; muscles, tendons, and ligaments which are major supporting structures and allow us the ability to move our head and neck.


The most common types of neck pain are muscle spasm/pain, headaches, joint-related, bone-related, nerve pain, or referred pain [1]. A lot of people struggle with neck pain both chronic or acute. Restricted range of motion and poor working ergonomics or postures often being risk factors for neck pain; research shows that 49% of Australian office workers experience neck pain in a year [2]. So if you’re sitting for long periods of time with poor postures you may not be a stranger to neck pain.


More serious symptoms that are causing dizziness, involuntary eye movement, fainting, double vision, difficulty speaking or swallowing, pins/needles and tingling sensations, nausea, weakness or that are associated with any recent trauma should be taken seriously and assessed sooner rather than later. Headaches can be associated with neck pain or potentially caused by restrictions in our range of motion and movement (or lack thereof!) that increase load on the head and neck; often referred to as cervicogenic headaches. Vertigo symptoms or BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) can often be another common experience that can be treated and managed with physio which many people may be unaware of.


Our Physio can provide treatment utilising soft tissue massage, manual mobilisation techniques, cupping, or dry needling to address your limitations as well as your symptoms. Further exercise therapy to target coordination and strengthening of muscles supporting the head, neck, and core or any other impairment that may be contributing to poor body mechanics. Assistance from your Doctor can also be provided to manage your neck pain episodes via medication prescription or advice such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories which are shown to be beneficial for musculoskeletal or nerve and referred pain [3].





[1] The 7 Faces of Neck Pain. Havard Health. Available from:https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/7-faces-of-neck-pain (accessed February, 2022)


[2] Hush, J. M., Michaleff, Z., Maher, C. G., & Refshauge, K. (2009). Individual, physical and psychological risk factors for neck pain in Australian office workers: a 1-year longitudinal study. European spine journal : official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society, 18(10), 1532–1540. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-009-1011-z


[3] Wong JJ, Côté P, Ameis A, Varatharajan S, Varatharajan T, Shearer HM, Brison RJ, Sutton D, Randhawa K, Yu H, Southerst D, Goldgrub R, Mior S, Stupar M, Carroll LJ, Taylor-Vaisey A. Are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs effective for the management of neck pain and associated disorders, whiplash-associated disorders, or non-specific low back pain? A systematic review of systematic reviews by the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration. Eur Spine J. 2016 Jan;25(1):34-61. doi: 10.1007/s00586-015-3891-4. Epub 2015 Apr 1. PMID: 25827308.


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