Neck pain, similar to back & lower back pain, is very common in society today. Its prevalence across the globe ranges from 16% to 75% in adult populations. It is a condition influenced by a number of factors: posture, repetitive movements, age, BMI, level of physical activity, stress and even job satisfaction. Often in the case of neck pain, more than one factor is involved, thus a holistic approach to treatment proves most effective.
Neck pain can present in many ways, unfortunately, and the underlying cause may not be evident on an X-ray or MRI. In many cases, neck pain is felt due to an increase in compressive load on the ligaments, joints and other structures of the cervical spine. Poor posture has been linked to an increase in activity of the neck extensor muscles which, in turn, increases the loading on other structures in the area. In some cases, issues in the neck can bring about headaches and other referred pain, such as into the shoulder.
Here at Owen Feeney Athletic Therapy, we have had many successes treating patients suffering from various presentations of neck pain. The first step of this process is to take a thorough history to determine the root cause and exact location of the pain. It is key also to determine the mechanism of injury for each patient and their own aggravating and easing factors. Following on from this, patients will go through a physical examination. This would typically include an assessment of movement, pain and tenderness of the joints in the surrounding area. If nerve root compression is indicated, a neurological assessment will be performed.
When the relevant information is gathered from patients, the second step on the journey can begin. This step will often include the prescription of movements and exercises, as well as hands-on therapy if necessary. These exercises and treatments are tailored to each individual based on their own requirements, there is no one shoe fits all approach to sorting out your neck pain!
Sources: Fejer, R., Kyvik, K.O. and Hartvigsen, J., 2006. The prevalence of neck pain in the world population: a systematic critical review of the literature. European spine journal, 15(6), pp.834-848.
Genebra, C., Maciel, N. M., Bento, T., Simeão, S., & Vitta, A. (2017). Prevalence and factors associated with neck pain: a population-based study. Brazilian journal of physical therapy, 21(4), 274–280.