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Neck Pain

Injury and postural problems are the main causes of neck pain.
Physiotherapists can identify the reasons for your neck pain and provide effective treatment.


What Causes Neck Pain?

Your head is heavy and balanced on a narrow support made up of seven bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are separated from each other by discs, stabilised by joints and ligaments and moved by muscles. Because the neck is so mobile, it is easily damaged. Injury and postural problems are the most common causes of neck pain. Diseases such as arthritis or degeneration of the discs can also cause pain.


What causes neck pain?
A disorder of the neck joints or muscles can cause referred pain to your head, shoulders, arms and upper back.
Neck Injuries

Neck injuries most often result from motor vehicle accidents, sports or occupational accidents. Damage may occur to vertebrae, joints and nerves, discs, ligaments and muscles. A common neck injury is the acceleration/deceleration injury or 'whiplash' where the head is thrown forward or back.

Posture

Bad posture can cause neck pain. Ligaments are over-stretched, muscles become tired and the neck joints and nerves are put under pressure.

Slouching your shoulders with your head pushed forward, sleeping with your head in an awkward position, or working with your head down for long periods, will all tend to cause neck pain.


Standing posture


PREVENTING NECK PAIN

Here is some useful advice to help you prevent neck pain:

Posture
Think tall: chest lifted, shoulders relaxed, chin tucked in and head level. Your neck should feel strong, straight and relaxed.

Sleeping
A down pillow or urethane pillow is best for most people. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.

Relaxation
Recognise when your are tense. You may be hunching your shoulders or clenching your teeth without realising it.

Work
Avoid working with your head down or to one side for long periods. Stretch and change position frequently.

Exercise
Keep your neck joints and muscles flexible and strong with correct neck exercises. Your physiotherapist can show you how.
How Physiotherapists Can Help

Physiotherapists will be able to determine the source of your neck pain and treat it. They may use:
bullet mobilisation
bullet manipulation
bullet massage
bullet remedial exercise
bullet postural assessment, correction and advice
bullet relaxation therapy
bullet laser, ultrasound, electrotherapy and heat treatment

Manipulation can be an effective treatment for neck problems. In some situations, it may do more harm than good. Your physiotherapist will carefully check your neck before manipulating it to see if other methods, such as mobilisation would be preferable.



Sitting posture
Your physiotherapist can also offer you self-help advice on ways to correct the cause of neck pain, such as practical tips for work and in the home, adjusting furniture, relaxation and exercise.
Finding a Physiotherapist

A doctor's referral is not required to see a physiotherapist in private practice. Physiotherapists in private practice are listed in the Yellow Pages under 'Physiotherapists'. Physiotherapists also work in public hospitals and community health centres.

A proportion of treatment costs is rebatable under all higher table health insurance schemes.
APA Top of page

Move well. Stay well.
By courtesy of the Australian Physiotherapy Association