Neck pain is a common condition that most of us will suffer from at some point in our lives.
It can arise for a whole host of reasons but if you have ever suffered from neck pain, you know that even mild neck pain can feel like it is taking over your life! It can make it harder for you to sleep, work, exercise and enjoy time with your friends and family.
The most common causes of neck pain are day to day movements and postural stresses and neck pain is rarely the sign of a more serious condition.
Neck pain can often refer to areas such as your shoulders, arms and upper back, as well as being a cause of headaches.
Common causes of neck pain include:
- Poor posture (the way your body is positioned when standing or sitting)
- Sleeping in an awkward position.
- Upper back and neck muscle tension.
- Injury such as a muscle strain.
- Prolonged sitting, especially when using a desktop or laptop computer.
- Degenerative changes in bones of the neck as a part of the ageing process or previous injury.
You will notice a common theme to the list above and that is; all of them appear relatively trivial when compared to the impact that neck pain has on our lives.
In fact, for a lot of our clients suffering from neck pain, that adds to the frustration. It doesn't matter if the pain is mild or severe, recent or decades old, most frequently, our clients will say that it just doesn't add up. “Why they are in so much discomfort? Why won’t the pain just go away by itself? Why does it keep coming back?”
How can something so mundane cause so much pain?
In these situations it is highly likely that there is an underlying imbalance of function that meant that their body was ‘on edge’. There was a build up of tension in an area of their spine and that mundane event was just the straw that broke the camels back (for the want of a better term).
Does it make sense to you that if your spine is functioning well that a trivial stress would be enough to make your neck hurt? If your range of motion was symmetrical, your muscles, ligaments and tendons were relaxed, elastic and strong does it make sense that it would suddenly start to hurt you?
Of course it doesn’t.
An underlying imbalance of function is most likely why you notice neck pain that comes out of no where, or won’t calm down, or keeps coming back.
This is why our initial assessment of someone with neck pain looks for two things:
- What is the cause pain and how do we get it to calm down as quickly as possible?
- Is there an underlying imbalance and if so, what can you do to address it to minimise the chances of it coming back?
There are also more serious causes of neck pain that, although much more rare, we need to screen for.
The more serious causes of neck pain are issues like fracture, disc prolapse compressing on nerves, cancer or meningitis.
We have designed our assessment to be able to determine if your neck pain arises from an issue that we can start to address immediately, requires referring for further testing (such as X-rays or MRI etc.) or if you require immediate referral for medical assessment.
So how do I know if I need to see you or go to the Emergency Department?
If you are experiencing intense neck pain after a severe head or neck injury, have lost vision due to an accident, are having difficulty swallowing, have lost or severely altered bowel and/or bladder function or your neck pain is linked to intense fever, we advise that you visit your ED as soon as is possible to make sure that you aren’t suffering from more serious conditions.
If you have any questions or concerns about neck pain, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us at Align.