Neck pain is commonly caused by the cervical spine, muscles, ligaments, and soft tissues of surrounding areas. In addition, structures like blood vessels, thyroid gland, and lymph nodes are also found in the neck and can be a source of pain. Around 10% of the adult population at any one time is suffering from a stiff neck. Neck pain of gradual onset (days) that is worse in the morning or after inactivity is suggestive of inflammation. Patients often wake up with a sore and stiff neck due to acute torticollis (wry neck). A preceding injury/trauma may be a causative factor for muscular ligamentous strains or sprains, fracture etc.
Cervical Spine Dysfunction
What is cervical spine dysfunction?
Cervical spine dysfunction is the result of abnornal muscle, joint, ligament or nerve function causing of pain from in the neck.
What causes cervical spine dysfunction?
There are many causes of neck dysfunction. It may result from abnormal postural loads due to work or recreational activities. e.g computer, laptop and desk bound occupations/pastimes. Dysfunction can also commonly occur following a relatively simple movement such as lifting or twisting your neck in the form of a muscular or ligamentous strain. Acute wry neck is the condition which is experienced when the neck ‘locks’ up usually soon after waking and more often not related to any prior symptoms.
How does cervical spine dysfunction feel?
Neck pain is experienced as pain felt in the neck, and occasionally in the head and shoulders. This may either be a dull ache or a sharp pain which is made worse by movement. In some situations it may prevent full motion of your neck. The pain may be in the middle of the neck, or to one or both sides of the neck. It may also radiate into the head, shoulders or arms.
Management of cervical spine dysfunction and how to fix
Cervical spine dysfunction is most commonly completely resolved with conservative treatment. This may involve the use of heat, soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation and exercises to stretch and strengthen affected structures. Your physiotherapist is highly experienced in treatment of this condition. In most case, the problem is mechanical and so is best managed with movement and guided exercises. If an inflammatory component is affecting the resolution of your symptoms, you will be referred on to your G.P, a sports physician or other specialist for greater intervention.
Whiplash (acceleration/deceleration) injury
What is whiplash?
Whiplash refers to the injury of any of a number of structures in the neck as a result of forceful loads, usually throwing the head back and forward or side to side, damaging structures such as joints, muscles and nerves.
What causes whiplash?
Excessive acceleration/deceleration forces to the neck cause injury in motor vehicle accidents and contact sports. In most instances the head is either violently thrust forward or backward on impact and injury to the structures in the neck results.
How does whiplash feel?
Typically there is little or no pain at the time of injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, there will be a gradual increase in the intensity of the pain over the following 2-3 days. Pain is usually felt in the neck and occasionally in the head and shoulders. This may either be a dull ache or a sharp pain which is made worse by movement. The pain may be in the middle of the neck, or to one or both sides of the neck. It may also radiate into the head shoulder or arms.
Management of whiplash and how to fix it?
Management may include activity modification, the taking of non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and physiotherapy treatment. When your pain has settled sufficiently, the physiotherapist will be able to provide you with a series of stretching and strengthening exercises designed to return you back to work or exercise and to reduce the chances of your neck pain re-occurring. Recovery in a mild-moderate case usually takes weeks to months to resolve. A severe case, however, can occasionally lead to degeneration of the discs in the neck and joint damage, resulting in long-term mobility and pain problem. Mild-moderate acceleration /deceleration injury usually does not produce any long-term effects, as long it is properly diagnosed and appropriately treated.