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Neck Pain and Physiotherapy

Common Conditions associated with Neck Pain

There are many reasons as to why you experience pain in your head, neck, and upper back.

We have listed some of the more common causes:

  • Whiplash- This type of injury can occur when there is a fast acceleration, then deceleration motion to your head and neck. This often occurs in motor vehicle accidents, but can also happen during other incidents. It can result in damage to muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues, as well as to bones. The severity of injury, the symptoms people experience, and recovery time, can vary widely.
  • Posture- Is a common cause of pain in your neck and upper back, and can sometimes cause headaches. The way you sit and stand at work, and during activities at home, can have a major impact on the bones, muscles and joints in your upper back and neck.
  • Osteoarthritis- This can also occur in your neck, and can lead to changes in the bones and joints in your neck.

Over time these sorts of conditions can lead to wear and tear in your joints, tight or weak muscles, and permanent changes the position of your head and neck.

Sometime this wear and tear can also put pressure on the nerves in the area, leading to pain, weakness, and sometimes pins and needles, into your arms, or hands.

How Can Physiotherapy Help?

Physiotherapy can help ease neck, and upper back pain, and headaches. The aim of Physiotherapy is to reduce pain, increase movement and strength, and to help improve you day to day functioning. Physiotherapy can also help you to manage your condition, and to prevent painful flare ups in the future.

Physiotherapy Treatment

During your first session your Physiotherapist will discuss your symptoms, history, and goals before deciding on an appropriate treatment plan. Following are some examples of the kinds of treatments that might be used.

  • Manual therapy techniques, including massage and joint mobilisations, can help to alleviate symptoms and improve joint function. Physiotherapists often use such techniques in combination with exercise and other treatments.
  • Your Physiotherapist may also give you advice on how you can improve your posture at work and at home. This can include types of stretches you can do at work to help you break up time spent in one position, how to arrange your work station so it will encourage you to adapt the posture best suited to you. It is also important to discuss with your Physiotherapist which of your normal activities are appropriate for you to continue, or if you need to modify them.
  • Heat or ice can also be used to achieve pain relief, depending on your condition. Your Physiotherapist will advise you of which of these is most appropriate.
  • Traction is a technique that your Physiotherapist might use to help stretch out the joints in your neck. This can be done with either a machine, or the Physiotherapist might use their hands. This can help to take pressure off joints, nerves and discs in your neck, which can reduce pain.
  • Physiotherapists often use strapping techniques as a part your treatment. It can help to improve posture because it reminds you to sit or stand in a certain way. Your Physiotherapist will then give you exercises to help maintain this posture, so you don’t have to wear the tape on a long term basis.
  • Your Physiotherapist will often give you some exercises or stretches in order to reduce pain, and improve your functioning. The exercises given will depend on your condition, history and goals. Your Physiotherapist will discuss with you the type of exercise that is most appropriate for you, and will provide you with any equipment they believe will enhance your treatment.
  • Aquatic Physiotherapy and/or Clinical Pilates can also be effective treatment options. Your Physiotherapist may discuss these options with you.

Types of Exercises

As mentioned exercise is an important part of your treatment. It can help you to manage pain, improve posture, and to perform your daily activities with increased comfort. Your Physiotherapist will prescribe exercises, or stretches on an individual basis, depending on your condition.

Often your Physiotherapist will ask you to perform some exercises at home, in order to complement what you do your Physiotherapy sessions. Home exercises programs are very important, as it gives you the best chance of achieving your goals, and improving your function.

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