Neck Pain

Cervical spondylosis

Spondylosis occurs due to everyday use over many years. This is where discs become thinner, the facet joints become worn and the spaces between the bones become narrower. Spurs of bone, known as osteophytes, form at the edges of the vertebrae and the facet joints. These changes are very similar to those seen in osteoarthritis. You can take painkillers to ease pain, and exercise will help you to stretch and strengthen your muscles.

Whiplash

Whiplash injuries are most often seen as a result of car accidents. They’re caused by the body being carried forward, causing the head to flip back. Then, as the body stops, the head is thrown forwards. There’s often a delay before you feel any pain or stiffness. It’s thought that the pain is caused by the stretching of the ligaments and the capsule around the facet joints, along with muscle spasm as the body tries to splint the injury.

Although whiplash can badly strain your neck, most cases improve within a few weeks or months. Seat belts and properly adjusted headrests in cars greatly reduce the damage from whiplash injuries. Gentle exercises to keep the neck mobile will help to prevent longer term problems and get you back to normal as soon as possible.

Tension

Muscles at the back of the neck must always be tensed in order to keep your body upright. When we’re stressed we often tense these muscles even more, which can cause neck pain and tension headaches.

What can be done to help?

Exercise

Exercise is the most important way that you can:

  • ease stiffness and pain
  • build up muscle strength and stamina
  • improve your flexibility and general fitness.

If your neck pain lasts a while, lack of movement can cause the muscles to become weak.

Medication

Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may help. It’s important that you take them regularly and at the recommended dose to help you control the pain and allow you to continue exercising. Don’t wait until your pain is severe before taking painkillers.

You shouldn’t take ibuprofen or aspirin if you’re pregnant or have asthma, indigestion or an ulcer until you’ve spoken to your doctor or pharmacist. Medication can have side-effects so you should read the label carefully and check if you have any queries.

Physiotherapy

If your neck pain is affecting your activity and is persisting, ask your GP about referral to a physiotherapist.

Premier physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem, get you back to your normal activities and give advice on how you can prevent symptoms returning in the future.