Neck Pain, Cervical Pain
Neck pain is very common and most people have one or more episodes of neck pain at some point in their life. The pain usually resolves within a few days or weeks, and serious or permanent damage is rare. Disc problems and trapped nerves are very uncommon as the cause of typical everyday neck pain.
Physiotherapy has an important part to play in the management of your neck pain. See your physio for assessment, treatment and an exercise programme. Manipulation, acupuncture and other treatments are available to physiotherapists to help treat your neck pain.
Understanding Your Neck
Your spine is a very strong part of your body and consists of the solid, bony vertebrae stacked up on top of each other in a jointed column. Strong and flexible discs join the vertebrae together into a powerful and mobile structure. Ligaments bind the bones together safely and the neck has large, strong muscles which move and stabilize it.
A neck strain is the commonest cause of neck pain which has a sudden onset. This is not serious and will settle within a short time. Even though it is often not clear in an individual’s case, most neck pain is thought to arise from soft tissue structures such as the facet joints, ligaments and muscles. Your neck is suffering from a temporary hiccup in its ability.
With your neck pain you can get other symptoms, such as arm pain, shoulder pain, chest pain, headache and pins and needles in the shoulder or arm. Many people think these problems are due to a trapped nerve but this diagnosis is uncommon and the symptoms are quite different. These extra symptoms usually settle as your neck pain does.
The exact diagnosis of your neck pain is not very important unless it is very severe or you are suffering from many other problems too. How you manage your neck pain is important and can make a difference to how quickly you recover and go back to normal.
Treatments for simple neck pain
It’s important to do the right things straight away in the early stages of your neck pain. The natural thing to do is rest but if you rest for more than a day or two it has been shown not to be helpful. Resting too much may prolong your pain and increases the risk of longer term disability.
Overall, movement is a good thing for your neck. Exercise moves your neck naturally, sending normal messages into the nervous system which help cut the pain. Exercise moves the muscles and joints, preventing stiffness and easing the uncomfortable structures.
Don’t wear a collar as this can prevent your neck moving and may increase disability. Get moving as soon as you can and get back to your normal activities ASAP. You’ll feel better if you get going early and get on with your life despite the pain
Managing Your Neck Pain
Even thought your neck may be painful, that’s not a good reason to stop doing everything and resting. You can do sensible things to help:
Pain Killing Medication
Do I Need To See A Doctor?
Most neck pain is not serious and settles with routine management and advice. If your neck pain is very severe and disabling, or if it gets worse over time rather than better, you should seek a doctor’s advice.
A doctor will be able to tell if you have uncomplicated neck pain and exclude serious causes for your condition. He or she will examine you and it is unlikely you will need an x-ray or a scan as these are not indicated for uncomplicated neck pain.
If you have any of these rare symptoms you should however consult a doctor right away: