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The Who, What, and Why of Neck Pain – Part 1

female holding neck

Estimated Read time: 3 minutes

Please note: Our articles are not designed to replace medical advice. If you have an injury we highly recommend seeing a qualified health professional. To book an appointment with Tim, or one of The Online Physiotherapy team, please visit our Physio clinic page. We have specialists for each major area of the body, ensuring you receive the best treatment for your injury.

💡 ‘The Executive Summary’

Despite being predisposed through genetics, gender, job role, or other factors, there are often proactive steps you can take to control the likelihood of getting neck pain, as well as ways to reduce neck pain if you do get it.

Neck pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders out there! At any one time almost 3 in 100 of us have neck pain [1]. So, without further ado, let us get into the meat of it… (here is a very short video if you would prefer!)

"Neck pain is the worst!”

We have all been there. It feels as though there is nothing you can do relieve it!

This blog is perfect to give you understanding as to who gets neck pain, what causes it, and why.

Are you experiencing neck pain? If so, I bet you would give anything to be rid of it?!

If you are not in pain, we often don’t realise how fortunate we are …. Until the pain comes in, and we are unable to shift it! So whether you have it, or not, this blog will be essential reading to bolster your understanding of neck pain. Do also stay tuned for more blogs on some Physiotherapy tips on how to help prevent or reduce neck pain.

Today we explain 3 things! The Who, The What, and The Why of Neck Pain.

1. Who is affected by neck pain?

Neck pain affects 65% of people in their lifetime. It is also more prevalent in women affecting them 40% more than men [2], and per individual case, the duration of time lived with it, is also higher by 40%. Being aged 45-54, a desk worker, gym goer (!), or one who sleeps poorly means that this group of people gets neck pain more than others.

 

From our experience at The Online Physiotherapist, neck pain is currently 8th on the list of most common injuries we see. However, often with a shoulder diagnosis there is often crossover with the neck also being affected- so we would push this up a few places!

neck pain and injury female holding knee athlete common injuries

2. What are the risk factors for getting neck pain, and can I prevent it?

Neck pain is a multifaceted problem, in other words, there are many causes of this frustrating and painful problem. Many robust studies have looked at various populations across the world and have explored the role of risk factors for neck pain. It then split them into 2. Factors that you can influence to prevent neck pain, and those you cannot influence to prevent neck pain. These include;

  • advanced age
  • being female
  • low social support
  • lack of physical activity
  • repeatedly lifting heavy weights with poor form
  • duration of daily computer use (inclusive of prolonged and poor sitting posture)
  • poor sleep and pillows
  • perceived stress
  • a history of neck or lower back pain

I will let you figure out which ones are preventable and not(!)

The evidence is quite clear that neck pain tends to become a chronic problem if not tackled early. Therefore, it is imperative to identify risk factors as soon as possible, in order to enable prevention and early diagnosis. By reducing those risk factors mentioned above in your control you can do well to prevent neck pain.

Image result for alert image

ALERT: It would be wrong of us to not mention the more rare, but serious causes of neck pain being a heart attack and meningitis – of which the symptoms are quickly noted below.

Symptoms of a heart attack, are:

  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • arm or jaw pain

Symptoms of meningitis are:

  • stiff neck
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sensitivity to light
  • fever

If you are in any doubt that you have the above, please seek urgent medical attention by calling your GP, attending A&E or calling 111 for advice. 

Right! Now that the serious stuff is out of the way..!

What is the most anatomical cause of neck pain, and what are the symptoms?

Mechanical neck pain makes up the vast majority of causes of neck pain. This is when injury is caused to the muscles, tendons, or discs.

neck nerve

What are the symptoms of mechanical neck pain?

  • Pain on moving
  • Pain on prodding the neck
  • Stiffness and tightness
  • Headaches
  • Aching muscles
  • Shooting pains down into arms
  • Pins and needles down arms
  • Numbness down your arms

If you’re experiencing any of these, and especially the last 3, we would recommend reaching out as soon as possible to book an Physiotherapy appointment with one of our specialists so we can take some urgent action.

3. Why do I get neck pain? Why does it hurt?

The most common issue of all neck pain causes is overloading of the structures around the neck, namely the large number of muscles and tendons that support it.

When these muscles and tendons get overloaded, or are in an awkward position for a prolonged period of time, they go into spasm. This is an involuntary muscle contraction that can cause pain and poor mobility of the neck. Ultimately, the neck has gone into PROTECT mode! At this stage, we would recommend seeking Physio support – you can book a session with one our expert Physiotherapists – we offer same-day appointments, as neck injuries simply cannot wait. Give us a call if nothing is showing in our diary and we will see how we can fit you in. 

neck anatomy

💡 In Conclusion

Neck pain affects 65% of people at some point in their life. There are controllables and uncontrollables, but there is often at least one or two things that you can do to help prevent or reduce your neck pain.

If you are unsure if you need Physiotherpy, or if Online Physiotherapy can assist you with your neck pain, then we are currently offering a free 15-minute screening call, in which you can book in on the link.

If you need urgent Physio advice and attention then book in below.

If you are in pain, or have an injury book yourself in below to start your recovery today!

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Sneak peak video into a slightly different question...

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