Neck Pain and stiffness
Neck pain is becoming increasingly common as we have more sedentary lifestyles. It can be caused by direct trauma such as a car accident [whiplash], arthritic changes as we age and postural strains from sitting incorrectly. Pain from the neck can radiate into the arms and head, it can also cause numbness and tingling which can spread into one or both arms.There is often associated stiffness. The patient may notice it difficult to turn when reversing the car.
We are finding increasing numbers of patients with neck pain directly related to overuse of laptop computers. Students and home office workers are strongly advised to use a desk top computer with an appropriate screen height to minimise the risk of developing neck pain.
What can be done?
Physiotherapy will involve a detailed history taking to try and determine predisposing and causative factors. An assessment of neck movement, upper limb movement and muscle strength will then be done. Posture will be observed and analyzed.Home and workplace ergonomics will be discussed.
Based on assessment findings a treatment plan will be made. This may involve postural re-education,ergonomic advise, mobilization of stiff joints,dry needling, stretching of tight muscles, exercises, electrotherapy [ to optimize the healing process and relieve pain] and biofeedback to assist in retraining weak muscles. The aim will be to get the patient self managing their condition as soon as possible. The home exercise regime is a very important part of treatment and will be reviewed on each physiotherapy session. To prevent the neck pain recurring the patient will need to maintain good postural habits.
In cases of chronic pain the physiotherapist will liaise closely with the patients G.P. or consultant to ensure optimum care. In this group of patients lifestyle management will be discussed and advise on general fitness will be given. Correct home and work place ergonomics will be advised.
I.S.C.P. information leaflets to download