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Neck pain is extremely common affecting 50 – 70% of people at some point in their lives. Fortunately, it’s very rare for the pain to be caused by a serious medical problem and such causes can be ruled out by a thorough history and examination from your healthcare provider.
The majority of neck pain is ‘mechanical’ in nature and originates from the tissues in the neck. There are many tissues and structures that can contribute to pain. Common sites of damage and types of neck pain include:
Muscles and Joints
If dysfunctional, the muscles and joints of the neck are capable of causing both localised pain (neck pain itself) and ‘referred’ pain, commonly into the head (resulting in headache) or down the arms. These problems can arise after neck injury (e.g. whiplash) or as a result of faulty movement patterns, chronic poor posture and stress. Other factors that can exacerbate neck ache include squinting, lack of exercise, poor sleep and diet.
Disc Bulge/ Herniation (“Slipped Disc”)
The discs of the spine sit between, and separate, each segment (or vertebra) of the spine. Although it is a commonly used expression, discs don’t actually ‘slip’ but if weakened through neck injury, chronic poor posture or poor stabilisation they can begin to bulge or herniate. This bulging can cause intense neck pain or, if more severe and pinching a nerve, can also cause pain into the back of the shoulder or down the arm. Other symptoms include neck stiffness, or numbness or tingling in the arms.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic and progressive breakdown of the protective cartilage in the joints. It commonly affects the hips, knees, hands, lower back and neck. The main symptoms of neck arthritis are neck pain and neck stiffness. Neck arthritis can be a result of, or be exacerbated by, a number of factors. Neck injury, chronic poor posture, a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition can predispose to arthritis in later life.
Manual treatment like chiropractic or physiotherapy can ease the pain and neck stiffness related to arthritis. In certain cases exercise, nutrition and supplementation can also be effective in the treatment of neck arthritis.
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“I came in due to pain in my upper back and neck. I was initially worried it may hurt to have treatment especially as I was already in so much pain but after the initial treatment no hesitations at all. I have much more range of motion and because of regular visits any aches or pains are sorted out quickly so they don’t develop into major problems.