Neck pain and Headaches

What causes neck pain?

The neck is made up of seven bones called vertebra. The vertebra 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 damage. Injury and postural problems are the most common causes of neck pain. Diseases such as arthritis or degeneration of the disc can also cause pain. Preventing neck pain with awareness on healthy posture is very important. Awkward posture can cause neck pain, ligaments are overstretched, muscles become tired and the neck joints and discs are put under pressure.   

Postures that can worsen neck pain are:

  • Slouch posture with the head pushed forward
  • Sleeping with your head in an awkward position
  • Working with your head down for long periods (we refer to this posture at Innovative Physio as 'SmartPhone Slump').

We teach you ideal posture via cognitive function of therapy so your brain can learn a better posture (movement pattern) to sit and work on the computer, to write texts on your iPhone sit and have a meal with the family and not lean down through your arms supported by the dinner table.

We are all victims to gravity- you will slump when focused intently on computer tasks. Our job is to show you a healthier sitting posture so you have choice of going between these two postures. The slumped ‘normal’ posture and the new ideal ‘unfamiliar’ posture.

With time your brain will enjoy the healthier ideal posture and choose to adopt this posture more regularly. This will take load of your neck joints and discs and balance your muscular system. The brain will be happy and you will significantly reduce your neck pain.

It is important to recognise when you are tense. You may be hunching your shoulders or clenching your teeth without releasing this tension. Avoid working with your head down or on one side for long periods. Keep your neck joints and muscles flexible and strong with correct neck awareness and strengthening exercises.

Our physiotherapist will assess for tight weak muscles and we will show you specific exercises to treat your situation.
Chronic neck and shoulder pain affects up to 18% of the population (Guez et al 2003).

It has been estimated that up to one in five headaches are of musculoskeletal (neck or thoracic) origin (Jull et al 2007a)

According to these researchers only 1/4 are due to trauma. These conditions are usually accompanied by pain and stiffness as well as impaired neck mobility. Neck pain is therefore a common complaint managed by physiotherapists and the need for effective management is clear. There is considerable evidence to support the benefits of musculoskeletal physiotherapy in reducing acute and chronic neck pain.

Physiotherapy treatment encompasses a variety of interventions such as:

  • joint mobilisation,
  • soft tissue massage,
  • therapeutic exercise – cognitive functional therapy directed to understanding the ideal movement patterns for healthy neck and total body posture
  • lumbo-pelvic stability,
  • diaphragmatic and inferior lateral thoracic breathing exercises for a stable base to apply scapula stability and deep neck flexor strengthening to best support the joints, discs, ligaments and nerves of the neck.
  • Ergonomic education especially if your career involves sedentary computer use is critical.

Increasingly the scientific literature is suggesting that physiotherapy is an effective and efficient mode of treating many forms of neck pain and neck related headaches. There is growing scientific evidence to support the use of early and intensive physiotherapy in those with neck pain and also Whiplash Associated Disorders.

The generally suggested treatment regime includes some ‘hands-on’ manual therapy involving joint mobilisation and soft tissue massage, but heavily emphasises the important role of expert guidance and advice regarding such issues as activity levels, ergonomics, and return to work and sport as well as in the prescription of specific exercises.

Cervical spondylosis can not be cured or reversed by physiotherapy, but effective ways of managing such problems and the associated aches, pains and functional limitations exist at the hands of skilled physiotherapists. Such management issues as ergonomics, posture, pillows and functional adaptations can provide effective solutions. General and more specific exercise has long been the hallmark of the physical management of all things arthritic, and similarly in the management of arthritic related neck pain, the judicious prescription of neck and more general whole body activity and exercise can be a safe, effective, tolerable and cost efficient management tool.

 Growing evidence mounts in the medical literature that, particularly as more and more of the medications typically used in the past to manage arthritic pain have been either withdrawn or increasingly cautioned against, physical management is essentially the front line, and best ongoing mode of management for such patients.  At Innovative Physio we are well skilled and widely accepted as experts in providing such treatment and management programs while working in a multidisciplinary approach to provide best patient care.

Our aim at Innovative Physio is keeping you moving well by educating you on excellent self-management strategies.


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