What will a physio do for neck pain?

Hands on physiotherapy treatment for neck pain

Around 2 in 3 people will experience neck pain at some point in their life. When neck pain strikes, physiotherapy treatment can make a significant difference in recovery and long-term neck health.

City Physio offers a comprehensive approach to addressing neck pain, focusing on personalised care and evidence-based treatments tailored to individual needs.

In this article, we explore the role of physiotherapy in managing neck pain, highlighting the techniques and strategies employed to alleviate discomfort and promote optimal neck function.

What causes neck pain?

Understanding the underlying causes of neck pain is essential for effective treatment and prevention. 

Neck pain and neck stiffness can stem from various structures within the neck itself, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs, and nerves.

Additionally, discomfort may arise from surrounding areas such as the spine, shoulders, and jaw. By identifying the specific sources of pain, physiotherapists can develop targeted treatment plans to address the root causes and promote optimal neck health.

What are the top 5 reasons for neck pain?

Neck pain is a common complaint that can significantly impact daily life, particularly as individuals age.

Identifying the primary reasons behind neck discomfort is vital for managing symptoms and preventing future issues. 

While neck pain can result from various factors, ranging from poor posture to traumatic injuries, understanding the top causes can guide effective treatment strategies. Knowing what causes neck pain helps you understand and address this challenging condition.

Muscle strain and overuse causing neck pain

Muscle strain and overuse, often a result of repetitive movements or lifting heavy objects, stand out as the leading contributors to neck pain,

These activities can strain the muscles in the neck and upper back, leading to discomfort and reduced mobility. 

Fortunately, physiotherapy offers effective strategies to alleviate muscle strain and facilitate healing. Through techniques such as targeted massage, tailored stretching exercises, and ergonomic adjustments, individuals can experience relief and regain comfort in their daily activities. 

By incorporating these interventions, physiotherapy empowers individuals to address the root causes of their neck pain and improve their overall quality of life.

Injuries linked to neck pain

The spectrum of injuries contributing to or causing neck pain is diverse, ranging from minor sprains and strains to more severe trauma such as whiplash. As you might have guessed, the injuries most directly linked to neck pain occur within the neck itself.

Sprains, resulting from tears in the neck’s ligaments, and strains, caused by torn muscles or tendons, can occur due to sudden neck movements. 

Sprains and strains may not be immediately obvious, as the resulting neck pain might not appear until hours or even days later.

However, more severe injuries like whiplash, commonly occurring in motor vehicle accidents or sports-related trauma, can profoundly affect the neck.

Whiplash, characterised by forceful backward and forward movements of the head and neck, can stretch muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves beyond their typical range. Whiplash is often accompanied by symptoms like headaches, severe stiffness, and numbness in the arms.

Timely treatment is crucial for such injuries to prevent chronic, long-term issues. Physiotherapy plays a vital role in the rehabilitation process following neck injuries, focusing on restoring range of motion, strengthening muscles, and alleviating pain through targeted treatment techniques tailored to individual needs.

Neck pain from poor posture and sleeping position

Poor posture, especially when prolonged sitting or computer use is involved, significantly contributes to neck pain. Even if you’ve taken steps to improve your posture, holding it for extended periods can still lead to muscular fatigue. In turn, fatigued muscles will ultimately put strain on the neck muscles.

Additionally, awkward sleeping positions can result in acute wry neck, characterised by difficulty turning or tilting the neck due to muscle spasms, often accompanied by sharp pain.

Physiotherapy offers effective treatments to alleviate neck pain stemming from poor posture and sleeping positions. Techniques such as joint mobilisation and remedial massage target muscle spasms and release tension.

Moreover, physiotherapists provide education on proper ergonomics, offering exercises to strengthen postural muscles and techniques to improve alignment. These interventions empower individuals to effectively manage and minimise neck pain, improving their overall quality of life.

Neck pain from awkward and uncomfortable sleeping position

Underlying medical conditions

Underlying medical conditions, such as arthritis, meningitis, or cancer, can also be underlying causes of neck pain. These conditions may lead to inflammation, nerve compression, or structural abnormalities that contribute to discomfort and reduced mobility.

While physiotherapy is by no means a solution to these underlying medical conditions, it plays a crucial supportive role in managing symptoms, improving function, and supporting the wellbeing of those who suffer from chronic neck pain.

A common condition physiotherapists provide treatment for is neck pain associated with osteoarthritis. While most prevalent in people over 50, younger individuals can develop osteoarthritis as a result of abnormal joint structure or genetic defects in their joint cartilage.

Age-related wear and tear

As we age the structures of the neck naturally undergo wear and tear, especially in the joints. This means that even seemingly low-intensity activities like driving or reading in bed can strain the neck muscles, resulting in pain and stiffness.

An unfortunately common consequence of this wear and tear is the development of conditions that pinch and irritate the nerves. The most prevalent cause we see is an Osteophyte. Also known as bone spurs, these are bony growths that develop around your joints or in the spine.

Another by-product of age-related wear and tear is the development of a bulging disc. When a disc bulges, it can pinch and irritate nearby nerves. Along with pain in the neck, a bulging disc can cause referred pain which radiates into the shoulder, shoulder blade or down the arm. This irritation may also manifest as sensations of pins and needles or numbness, adding to the discomfort.

While bone spurs and bulging discs are often attributed to age-related changes, they can also stem from many of the other factors previously mentioned.

Fortunately, City Physio offers effective interventions to manage age-related neck pain. Treatments such as joint mobilisations, targeted strengthening exercises, and lifestyle modifications can play a pivotal role in alleviating discomfort from neck pain while simultaneously promoting overall well-being. By incorporating these strategies, individuals can proactively manage their neck pain and maintain an active lifestyle as they age.

How do I know if my neck pain is serious?

While most cases of neck pain can be effectively managed with physiotherapy, it’s important to recognize when neck pain may indicate something more serious. 

For example, a tear in one of the neck arteries. Also known as a cervical artery dissection, it is the leading cause of strokes for people under the age of 50. 

Cervical artery dissection can occur due to rapid or forceful neck movements, often associated with activities like weightlifting, certain dance moves, or incorrect yoga postures that hyperextend the neck. While this can lead to neck pain in anyone, for those who have underlying connective tissue disorders, the result is far more extreme than a neck sprain or strain.

Symptoms of cervical artery dissection may include persistent neck pain accompanied by severe headaches, as well as radiating pain along the side of the neck toward the outer corner of the eye. Additionally, individuals may experience sensations such as something sharp lodged in the base of the skull.

If you experience such symptoms, especially alongside signs of a stroke such as dizziness, double vision, jerky eye movements, unsteadiness while walking, or slurred speech, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention at the emergency room. Early detection and treatment of cervical artery dissection are essential for preventing serious complications like stroke.

Physio treatment for neck pain

An important aspect of physiotherapy for neck pain is the comprehensive assessment and identification of the most suitable treatment options to alleviate discomfort and mitigate the risk of future occurrences.

By tailoring treatment plans to individual needs and addressing underlying factors contributing to neck pain, City Physio facilitates smooth recovery and promotes long-term neck health.

Spinal joint mobilisation

Joint mobilisation is a key component of our physiotherapy treatment for neck pain. Our experienced physiotherapists utilise a range of hands-on techniques to enhance the spinal range of movement, including gentle or stronger mobilisations.

By targeting tight muscles and fascia surrounding stiff spinal joints, we aim to improve their range of motion which in turn reduces neck pain. Spinal joint mobilisation involves controlled force to move spinal joint segments, freeing up the joints and minimising stiffness and pain. It also restores small, involuntary movements that assist joints in performing optimally.

Spinal joint mobilisation can also help prevent future or further degenerative changes by maintaining joint flexibility. Without regular movement, spinal joints can become increasingly stiff over time, potentially hastening the onset of osteoarthritis, and leading to ongoing discomfort as we age. 

This means addressing even mild neck joint stiffness through physiotherapy treatment is invaluable in promoting long-term neck health and mitigating the risk of degenerative conditions.

Remedial massage

Remedial massage stands as a cornerstone in the arsenal of physiotherapy treatments for addressing neck pain. This hands-on approach involves manipulation of the soft tissues surrounding the neck, aiming to enhance blood circulation and alleviate muscle tension. 

We understand that neck pain can stem from a variety of issues, ranging from injuries to muscle spasms and everything in between. At City Physiotherapy physiotherapists’ hands-on remedial massage is tailored to target your specific pain points that contribute to your neck pain.

Dry needling physiotherapy treatment for neck pain

Dry needling treatment for neck pain

When neck pain strikes, the muscles in this delicate region can become sensitive and tender, often forming stubborn knots known as trigger points. These trigger points, nestled within the muscle or connective tissue, can radiate pain across a wide area, exacerbating discomfort.

Dry needling offers a precise solution to target these troublesome trigger points. This technique involves the insertion of a fine needle through the skin, directly stimulating these points. By doing so, the tight muscle bands associated with trigger points are prompted to relax, providing relief from pain and enhancing range of motion.

Clinical studies have shown that dry needling can be an instrumental tool in reducing neck pain and increasing range of motion.

Our physiotherapists are equipped to provide dry-needling treatments for individuals experiencing discomfort and pain in the neck. We also understand that neck pain can stem from other areas of the body such as the shoulders and jaw. Thus, our comprehensive approach encompasses addressing these contributing areas to provide holistic relief from neck pain.

Exercise routines for neck pain

Our physiotherapists excel at devising tailored exercise routines aimed at bolstering strength and flexibility in and around the neck. These routines not only target alleviating neck pain and associated symptoms but also serve as proactive measures to prevent future discomfort.

While treatments like dry needling and remedial massage offer temporary relief, individuals grappling with chronic neck issues can find sustained benefits in personalised exercise plans. These allow you to take charge in fostering long-term chronic neck pain management.

Beyond mere symptom alleviation, working with a physiotherapist facilitates the tools to build neck muscle flexibility, mobility, and strength, along with overall well-being.

Post-surgery rehab

Recovering from neck surgery can be daunting, with lingering neck pain and stiffness lasting for weeks or months. Physiotherapy post-surgery rehabilitation can be an invaluable tool to promote a healthy recovery, targeting tightness, improving mobility, and preventing spasms.

While initial exercises from your surgeon kickstart recovery, comprehensive post-surgical rehab with us ensures optimal recovery. We tailor our program to speed up your return to your pre-surgery lifestyle.  Using our Adelaide CBD on-site rehabilitation gym and Pilates studio, we can facilitate your rehabilitation with as little pain as possible.

Adelaide CBD Physiotherapy

At City Physiotherapy, our commitment to alleviating neck pain extends beyond simply addressing immediate discomfort.

Our holistic approach encompasses various aspects of well-being, including sleep positions, diet, lifestyle modifications, breathing patterns, pain science, stress management, and factors like genetics, hormones, and the immune system. By considering the interconnectedness of these factors, we provide personalised treatment plans tailored to each individual’s unique needs. 

With our comprehensive range of treatments, we empower patients to address the complex array of contributing causes to their neck pain and regain control over their health. With all our treatments, our goal is to help individuals lead active, pain-free lives, regardless of any challenges they may face.

Take the first step towards a healthier neck by scheduling an appointment with City Physiotherapy today.

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