Neck Pain & Injury Treatment
Neck pain is very common and can be very disabling as well as painful. In the absolute majority of all neck patients at PhysioActive the pain is caused by acute inflammations or tight muscles. Sometimes the pain is localized in the neck, but it may also refer to the thoracic spine or shoulder. If the nerve is irritated the pain may even radiate into the arm or fingers. Common causes are poor posture, joint degeneration, muscular weakness, stress and general inactivity.
Common Neck Injuries:
Acute neck pain
Acute neck pain is defined as nonspecific or mechanical pain present for up to six weeks. It has no serious underlying pathology or nerve injury and is often unrelated to a specific activity. 98% of all neck patients are related to nonspecific acute neck pain. It is the most prevalent orthopedic injury among our modern society and 80% of all people experience a significant episode of neck pain at some point of their lives. Rest, pain killers and physiotherapy, including massage, stretching, strengthening exercises and posture training is the choice of treatment for returning to a pain free life and to prevent acute neck pain from reoccurrence.
A herniated disc, also known as a slipped disc or ruptured disc, is a common condition in where one of the cushion-like discs between the vertebrae moves out of position and presses on the nerves of the spinal cord. A herniated disc can irritate those nerves and sometimes result in pain, numbness or weakness in the arm or fingers. Most people who have a herniated disc don’t need any surgery. In this case conservative treatment including rest, medication and physiotherapy will help to fully recover.
Cervical spondylosis is a general term for age-related wear and tear affecting the disc and joints in your neck. In most cases conservative treatment with physiotherapy can reduce the pain significantly and allows the patients to have a rather normal life without many restrictions. Only in very severe cases the choice of treatment might be surgery.
Whiplash is an injury that occurs after sudden extreme movements to the head, like in a car accident. This extreme motion may damage soft tissues including muscles, ligaments and capsule. Compensatory muscle activity to protect the head may cause further damage. Pain can be localized in the neck, but often radiates into the head or further down the spine. Most people recover from whiplash with physiotherapy in just a few weeks, but without treatment some people may develop chronic pain after a whiplash injury.
Spinal stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal and is most commonly caused by degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae. The result is compression of the nerve leading to pins & needles sensation in the arms and fingers. Mild to moderate spinal stenosis is treated with Physiotherapy to relieve the nerve irritation. Posture training and muscle strengthening play an important role to support the neck. However, when symptoms are severe and persistent, surgical resection of the tissue that is impinging the nerve may be necessary.
Fracture of the vertebra
A fractured vertebra is usually associated with a major trauma, such as from a fall or car accident. However, patients with osteoporosis can suffer from a broken vertebra without even knowing it.
Injuries can range from relatively mild fractures with only localized neck pain to severe fractures with associated spinal cord injury. Depending on how severe the injury is the patient may experience pain in the neck, difficulty with moving the arms, or even the inability to move the arms completely (paralysis). Many fractures heal with conservative treatment as physiotherapy and adjusted activity level; however severe fractures may require surgery to realign the bones.
Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches among adults. They are commonly referred to as stress headaches. An acute episodic tension headache may be described as a mild to moderate constant band-like pain, tightness, or pressure around the forehead or back of the head and neck. Some patients develop chronic tension headaches which are much more frequent and the pain is usually throbbing and affects the front, top and side of the head. In some people, tension headaches are caused by tightened muscles in the back of the neck and scalp. Common causes for tightened muscles are inadequate rest, poor posture, stress, depression, anxiety, fatigue and overexertion. In other people the cause remains unknown. Physiotherapy can help by aiming at eliminating the cause of the pain.