A bit about the neck...
The seven bones that form the neck are called the cervical vertebrae. They’re linked together by facet joints which, together with the neck muscles, allow you to move your head in any direction. Between the bones are discs of cartilage known as intervertebral discs. At the level of each disc, nerve roots branch out from the spinal cord. Electrical impulses travel along these nerves supplying sensations such as pain, touch and vibration to the brain and movement to the muscles of your arms. The bones help to support the head and protect the spinal cord which contains the nerve supply to the rest of your body.
What can go wrong?
There are a variety of reasons people might experience neck pain, from something as simple as sleeping in an awkward position, to more serious situations such as road traffic accidents resulting in whiplash of the neck, caused by the straining and spraining of the muscles and ligaments. It can often be the result of poor posture, which is particularly common amongst people who spend prolonged periods sitting at a desk and using a computer. Neck pain can also be the result of tension in the neck, caused by stress or anxiety.
What causes neck pain?
The most common causes of neck pain are:
- Muscle strains and joint sprains - Tight muscles due to stress and tension can cause neck pain and headaches. Poor posture also causes altered biomechanics which results in muscle tension, joint stiffness and pain
- Whiplash - Whiplash injuries are most often seen as a result of car accidents. They’re caused by the body being carried forward, causing the head to be thrown back. Then, as the body stops, the head is thrown forwards. There’s often a delay before you feel any pain or stiffness. The pain is caused by the stretching of the ligaments and the capsule around the facet joints, along with muscle spasm as the body tries to protect the injury
- Osteoarthritis - wear and tear of the cartilage within the facet joints and discs as we age causes extra bone growth to occur between the vertebrae known as osteophytes. The disc space between the vertebrae also narrows. This results in neck pain and reduced movement
Specialist treatment and prevention of neck pain
After lower back pain, neck pain is the next most common reason people come to us for help, so needless to say we’ve got a wealth of experience in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of neck pain:
- Diagnosis - X-ray and 3D Movement Scanners
- Treatment - manual therapy, such as manipulating the spine and massage, carried out by physiotherapists, chiropractors or osteopaths
- Strength and conditioning - Pilates and rehabilitation where you're taught exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture