Neck pain is a very common condition and most people will suffer pain in their neck at some point in their life. It can range from a mild discomfort to a more severe pain and be due to a sudden acute onset or be more of a chronic problem. Neck pain is more frequently seen in women than in men, and it can influence your ability to work, carry out day to day activities as well as effect your sleeping habits.
The neck is composed of 7 vertebrae housing and protecting the spinal cord. It has a complex arrangement of muscles, ligaments, and nerves which are enveloped, supported and strengthened by multiple layers of dense, fibrous tissue known as fascia. The vertebrae are connected to each other by joints which allow the neck to bend forwards, backwards, and side to side. In between the vertebrae are structures called discs. These have a much higher water content than bone and help to absorb pressure and load. When any one of these structures becomes worn, injured or inflammed, neck pain can occur.
When we are born the discs have a very high water content, but as we get older these discs become less hydrated and more fibrous. This is known as ‘degenerative disc disease’ (DDD). Just like grey hair and wrinkles, this is the normal ageing process and occurs at varying rates depending on the individual – it can start as early as your 20s!
With most acute neck pain the outlook is good with symptoms easing within a few days and gone after a few weeks.
Frequently there appears to be no specific reason for the onset of neck pain, however there are a number of possible causative factors:
• bad posture; it is very common in people who spend a lot of their day at their desk in front of a computer with a ‘poking chin’ posture
• trauma or injury; minor injuries or sprains to the muscles or ligaments usually caused by impact or contact with an object, surface or another person, or
• falling asleep in an awkward position; can cause a ‘wry neck’ where it becomes stuck to one side with a lot of muscles going into spasm. This can make it very difficult to move the neck back into an upright position
• worry or stress; tends to tense up the muscles of the neck and shoulders so that they become stiff and tight
• a disc problem; the intervertebral disc sits inbetween the bones of your neck and helps to provide shock absorption during movements. They can sometimes bulge beyond their normal borders causing an inflammatory reaction and pain. As the discs bulge or protrude to the side they can also irritate the nerve as it leaves the spine and travels down the arm. This can therefore cause arm pain with possible pins and needles or numbness. If the nerve’s ability to function starts to become affected you may suffer with weakness or changes in your sensation within the upper limb
• arthritis; degeneration or wear and tear of the joints between the vertebrae or the discs is a common cause of neck pain. Although you would expect this to only be present within the elderly, it can actually occur at much younger ages and progress at varying rates. It is important to remember that arthritis is the normal ageing process and although it is a common source of pain it can be managed well with exercises, advice and physiotherapy
• whiplash injury; This often occurs as a result of a road traffic accident. It involves a sudden forwards and then immediate backward movement of the neck. This can result in overstretching of the muscles, ligaments and nerves as well as irritation to the joints in the neck and therefore pain often results
For the most part, with general neck problems the pain feels like an ache with stiffness in the neck area, and pain on movement. However it can sometimes become a sharper or even burning sensation. It often radiates into the shoulder, or between the shoulder blades and can also go down the arm and into the hand. Sometimes it may cause pins and needles or a tingling sensation in the arm. The pain can also go up into the neck causing a headache and can produce a feeling of weakness in the shoulders and arms.
The spine is an ‘s’ shape and this helps to dissipate the load of your day to day activities. It is therefore important to maintain these natural curves in the neck, otherwise the ligaments, muscles, joints, nerves and discs can be put through abnormal stresses which can cause pain. We rely on the use of the deep neck muscles (‘core muscles’) to help maintain the ‘s’ curve and thus support the neck. The neck has multiple other responsibilities, including support of the head and face and coordination of movement between the head the upper body.
Posture is a key factor to neck pain. It is the way we hold and move our bodies. It is unique to each one of us and can be influenced by our mood, daily activities and environment. Certain posture types can cause muscle imbalances and again predispose us to an increase risk of poor core stability and neck pain.
However, at The Wyndham Centre the physiotherapists can guide you through both manual treatment techniques and rehabilitation in order to improve your postural habits as well as show you how to activate and strengthen the core muscles, with the aim of reducing your neck pain, and giving back the support your body needs.
Your body is designed for a much more active lifestyle. Keeping parts of the body still for too long, such as when you sit at a desk, can lead to stress on your spine with possible damage and pain.
Lighting, noise and badly-positioned furniture can all make you uncomfortable, so try to adjust things to suit you.
There is no one chair which suits everyone or every type of job. You should try to adjust your sitting position to the one that suits you best. Follow these few simple tips to help avoid back pain:
DO’S and DON’T’S
- DO try to keep the body’s natural curves. Avoid looking like a banana
- DO use a lumbar roll or a seat wedge to help maintain the back’s natural curve. A lumbar roll can be made by rolling a small towel and placing it between the chair and the lower part of your back
- DO try to keep your elbows at right angles when using a keyboard – use an armrest
- DO use a footrest if your feet don’t touch the ground or your chair can’t be lowered enough
- DO avoid excessive neck movement by using a document holder if you do a lot of typing
- DO place the keyboard where you can reach it easily and can key with either hand
- DO try and arrange your work so that you achieve a mix of sitting still and moving around
- DO get the body moving by doing a few exercises every hour or so. This will increase circulation, send more oxygen to the brain and help you stay alert
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- DON’T sit for too long. Stand up and stretch every 20 minutes or so
- DON’T place things out of reach so that you have to make a lot of repetitive movements. Especially avoid twisting when sitting
- DON’T lean forward more than you have to. Your head weighs about 14lbs
- DON’T have your chair too far from your desk. The arms, if fitted, should not prevent the chair being pulled up close to the desk
This advice can help prevent back, neck and shoulder problems. However if a problem occurs, consult one of our Physiotherapists at The Wyndham Centre.
One of the most common is tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), a pain on the outside of the elbow, which can radiate down into the forearm. This involves a sprain of the tendons of the forearm where they attach onto the bony ridge on the outside of the elbow. It can cause the local tendon tissue to degenerate and may have an inflammatory reaction. This can be a stubborn problem resulting in long lasting symptoms, which are resistant to treatment and, it can be brought on by any activity involving gripping, digging, hammering or even carrying a heavy case.
New research suggests that the nerve system can play a major role in this condition and often the pain is referred from the neck and upper back and has associated sensory symptoms such as burning, pins and needles and numbness. It can be persistent and unpredictable.
Irritation of this system can be caused by bad postures and unhelpful movement patterns sometimes related to poor ergonomics at work.
Cases of tennis elbow directly related to playing the sport have many possible causes including poor tennis training methods (especially incorrect backhand technique or excess wrist flicking during service), unsuitable rackets (often too heavy), wrong grip sizes (often too small), incorrect string tension and ball weight. Treatment may involve local electrotherapy, massage, acupuncture, stretching, exercising and strapping, which when applied appropriately can reverse the local mechanical degeneration and decrease the inflammatory changes. More importantly, therapists will also assess the patient’s total body posture.
Also, advice will be given to correct bad ergonomics at work and sports specific requirements will be considered. With appropriate holistic assessment and treatment from our Physiotherapists you will all enjoy a long, hot, pain free summer playing the game you love.
Our Physiotherapists here are trained to treat all types of sports injuries and get them better as quickly as possible. Don’t forget that treatment shortens the healing process and gets you back to your game as soon as possible.
Pain. We all experience it at some time to one degree or another. Neck and back ache, muscle cramps, joint stiffness and migraines are some of the most common physical pains, but there is also the pain from irritable bowel, asthma, eczema, and hayfever, and even the emotional pain of a marriage breakdown, redundancy from a job, or the illness or loss of a loved one. Whatever the pain and whatever the source, most of the time there is no need for it.
Here at The Wyndham Centre we have therapists who specialise in pain relief and getting the body back into working order.
Pain is defined as ‘the unpleasant sensory and emotional experience an individual has when they perceive actual or potential tissue damage to their body.’
Medical diagnosis is based on the severity, duration and type (dull, burning, or stabbing) of the pain and also the cause such as neuropathic pain which is caused by damage to nerve fibres. It is a major symptom in many medical conditions interfering in a person’s quality of life and general functioning.
Pain is a feeling triggered in the nervous system. Pain can be helpful. Without pain, you might seriously hurt yourself without knowing it, or you might not realise you have a medical problem that needs treatment. Once you take care of the problem, pain usually goes away.
Pain is highly subjective to the person experiencing it. At The Wyndham Centre we understand that everyone is an individual and will respond differently not only to their pain but also to the treatment. We have a variety of different therapies that can help.
Indian Head Massage is an ancient technique practiced in India under the Ayurvedic methods of medicine. It is a form of massage that focuses solely on the head, neck, face, shoulders and upper arms. These important energy centers are areas where tension can accumulate, the Indian Head Massage aims to release that tension, pain and pressure. A firm and gentle rhythm is used to release blockages and relieve tension and pain.
Champissage, also known as an Indian Head Massage is a trademarked term for an alternative medicine massage therapy in which the head, neck and facial areas are massaged with the purpose of manipulating energy channels. The goal is to clear blocks in these energy channels that cause a build-up of negative energy that are purported to cause ailments. The belief is when the energy does not flow properly, negative energy builds up, causing common ailments, including stress, pain and nociception pains and aches, and baldness or hair loss.
An Indian Head Massage starts with the client sitting in a comfortable chair for the duration of the one-hour treatment. It begins with a deep kneading and probing of the back, arms, neck and shoulder muscles. The head is then worked with the scalp being squeezed, rubbed, gently tapped and prodded. The hair is briskly tussled and gently combed. Pressure points are gently worked on and the ears are tugged and pressed. The face is massaged last, working with acupressure points to help relieve any sinus pressure, stimulate the circulation and to increase alertness. The physical form of the massage actually works to release any stored negative energy trapped in the body, with a more subtle form of energy balancing which affects a person’s energy centers.
This Ayurvedic element of chakra energy balancing focuses on the four higher chakras and has a powerful effect. Combined with the fresh flow of energy from Reiki, the Indian Head Massage can bring the energy of the whole body back into balance by creating a deep sense of peace, calm and well-being.
Generally, a client will find an improvement in hair quality, happiness and general well-being after four to six sessions.
As many of us are aware the lifestyles that we live tend to keep us on edge or stressed almost the entire day. To decompress, or de-stress, from this hectic pace there are dissimilar methods that can be used. Since our backs tend to take most of this feverish lifestyle demands, having a back massage can untangle the assorted stress knots that have developed.
The back is often the most vulnerable part of the body, absorbing most of the stresses that we encounter on a daily basis. So, the idea is to take care of the back and it will take care of you.