Neck pain and stiffness of the neck is so common that most of us can expect an episode at some stage in our lives. It may come on suddenly or be more gradual, but often it can be accompanied by pain in the upper back or arms, headaches and dizziness, or even the sensation pins and needles.
What causes neck pain and stiffness?
Most neck pain does not have one simple cause as neck pain can come from muscles, joints, nerves, bones, tendons and other tissues. The most common cause of neck pain relates to the effects of poor posture or repetitive activity, for example, using the telephone or mouse, sitting at a computer or in front of the television, playing a musical instrument, and long-distance driving. Traumatic injuries like whiplash or from contact sports also can cause neck pain. Headaches are commonly related to neck pain
What are common types of neck pain?
- Postural Pain: Typically aching across the back of the shoulders and neck which is aggravated by prolonged sitting and relieved by movement.
- Joint Pain – ‘Wry Neck’: ‘Locking up’ of one or more of the joints in the neck which often starts with a sudden onset of sharp pain and limitation of movement (usually looking one way) or waking up with pain in the morning.
- Discogenic Pain: Irritation or inflammation of a disc that sits in the neck which often presents as a constant pain in one side of neck which may radiate into shoulder blade area or into the arm.
- Acute Nerve Root: Sudden onset of pain in the arm (can be with or without neck pain) and can be associated with pins and needles or numbness.
- Whiplash Injury: Whiplash is a common injury in which the soft tissues and joints in the neck are sprained as a result of the body being moved backwards and forwards by an unexpected, strong impact. Symptoms often include stiffness and pain in the neck and back of the head, and headaches. Some people also feel pain in the shoulder, between the shoulder blades, the jaw or occasionally temporary dizziness.
What can you do about neck pain?
In most cases of neck pain, it is best to try and keep moving and maintain your normal activities. If you have to sit in one position most of the day, take regular breaks to adjust your position so you are more upright.
If you are finding movement is making the pain worse, get advice from our Physiotherapists about which movements will help.
If you have neck pain you shouldn’t ignore the problem, this may lead to your problem getting worse and a prolonged recovery.