A Real Pain in the Neck!

Young female with neck pain

The majority of patients that we see here at the practice tend to have some involvement of their spine whether it be neck, shoulder, back problem or something more peripheral that involves arm and leg pain.

Here at Grosvenor Street Physiotherapy there isn’t an awful lot we can’t treat! As a rule of thumb, if you can walk through the door then the majority of time there is something we can do!

The majority of patients that come in complaining of neck pain have had symptoms for some time prior to coming to make an appointment yet symptoms usually start with minor niggles and aches and pains that tend to increase in frequency and duration over time.

Once treatment has commenced and patients symptoms have settled, I always suggest patients try self management at home by doing exercises and following advice we give in order to prevent this re-occurrence in future.

The causes of neck pain can vary tremendously, but they tend to be due to poor posture, either being slumped at a desk sat in the office, driving for long periods of time, overdoing housework or in children sat in front of an iPad or Kindle.

Symptoms can initially start with the odd ache, pain and niggle. The symptoms can gradually increase in frequency and duration ultimately give more constant pain locally within the neck and upper shoulders and can also cause headaches.

Symptoms can be settles and reduced quite easily with some minor adjustments made to your sitting position at your desk and also be doing some gentle stretches every 45 minutes while sat in your chair. Adjusting your posture by elongating your neck, keeping your shoulders back and your chin gently tucked in also helps.

I always ask patients regarding their sleep pattern and find 9 times out of 10 that the patients are sleeping with too many pillows. Two pillows tends to stretch your neck into a bent position, no pillows doesn’t support your neck enough so I suggest that one medium sized pillow in perfectly adequate to sleep at night. Some patients find rolling a hand towel into a sausage shape and stuffing it at the bottom of the pillowcase helps support the neck while lying on your back or either side.

Local heat is useful to use to try an ease tension within the muscles and increase blood flow to the area. A hot water bottle or a wheat bag placed gently around the top of the shoulders and the neck helps ease the tension, pain and is indeed a modality we use here in the practice.

As a long term measure, pilates in an excellent way to help strengthen your core muscles when they are weak and also help to take the strain off you neck.

Patients who complain of pain in their neck with associated pins and needles, tingling and numbness in their arm or fingers often point to a diagnosis of an irritable disc within the spine or stiffness that is causing an impingement on the nerve roots within the neck.

Causes can be due to an early injury in the past, but also can occur gradually over a number of years due to sitting or moving incorrectly. Symptoms like this are more common within the age group of 30-50.

Certainly physiotherapy in this instant is good to alleviate the symptoms. Also taking some anti inflammatory and pain killers on a regular basis for 5-7 days also helps reduce and ease some of the tension and the pain with the muscle and joints.


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