I’m a physiotherapist – here’s the main reasons for neck pain and how to treat it

I'm a physiotherapist - here's the main reasons for neck pain and how to treat it

NECK pain is a common condition and is thought to affect about one in three people each year.

Usually, neck pain only lasts a few weeks, but it can be unpleasant and in some cases interfere with your daily life.


Many people experience back pain and one expert has now revealed the main causesCredit: Getty

Now a physical therapist has revealed the top five causes of the problem and how to treat it.

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Ashleigh Wienand, clinical director and chief physical therapist at Ultra Sports Clinic, said up to 70 percent of the population will experience the problem at some point in their lives.

Unfortunately — up to 80 percent of these people will never completely solve the problem, she added.

The expert said the main reason people report neck pain is due to poor posture.

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She explained, “Poor workplace ergonomics and sports activities predispose the neck to injury from exercise such as cycling and swimming.

“This is due to persistent or repetitive movements of the neck”.

However, she added that you are also likely to develop back pain if you don’t get much exercise and have weak muscles as a result.

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The guru said that weak shoulder and neck muscles predispose the neck to pain and injury.

In addition, sleeping positions such as napping with your neck in rotation can have a negative effect.

Ashleigh added that a pinched nerve or compression of the nerves is another big culprit when it comes to neck pain.

“This will happen when a structure close to the nerve is damaged and presses on the nerve like a hernia,” she said.

The fourth most common cause, she added, is accidental injury.

She said: “Motor vehicle accidents such as whiplash injuries can damage the muscles, ligaments, intervertebral discs, nerves or in more severe cases fractures of the vertebrae.

“If you experience the following pain after an accident, this could be the cause.”

When to go to the doctor?

You may have gotten used to your neck pain, but you shouldn’t tolerate it.

The NHS states that you should not experience the pain for more than two weeks.

This is when you should see your doctor

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  • if the pain lasts for more than a few weeks
  • when painkillers don’t work
  • you worry about the pain
  • you have other symptoms such as tingling or a cold arm

Doctors say that if you’re experiencing pain, you should avoid doing anything that could be dangerous because you can’t move your neck, such as driving or riding a bicycle.

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you should also keep your neck moving and not wear a collar.

Finally, she said age can also be a determinant of pain.

“This is normal in the general population and includes all of your joints in your body.

“10 percent of adults will experience degeneration before age 30 and most people over age 50.

“The shock-absorbing intervertebral discs flatten and lose their cushioning properties as we age, which is what causes this.

“Other factors that contribute to neck pain can include low social support, burnout, increased levels of stress, anger, depression and autoimmune disorders,” she added.

How to treat it?

Just because neck pain is common doesn’t mean it should be ignored, and Ashley said there are a few ways to alleviate the problem.

“Posture correction and improvement of your desk arrangement.

Correcting your posture is one of the most important ways to prevent neck pain and if you work at a desk most days, it is essential that you have the right desk that is comfortable for you and creates a healthy posture.

“It’s important to adjust your desk and chair level as needed.

“Take frequent breaks throughout the day and stretch the neck — it’s important to let your body relax, because exertion or staying in the same position for a long time can cause neck pain over time.”

She added that you should also assess factors outside of work, such as carrying a heavy bag or eyesight.

“Lifting heavy weights with the wrong body shape can cause neck pain, so it’s important to be wary of this if you’re trying to lift a heavy bag or if you’re new to weightlifting at the gym.

“Vision is another factor outside of your working life associated with neck pain, so be sure to get regular checkups,” she added.

The NHS states that you can also relieve the pain by taking ibuprofen or paracetamol or using the gel on your neck.

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In addition, you should also try to use a low, firm pillow and place warm or cold compresses around your neck.

“Try to stay active – carry on with your usual daily activities as much as possible,” she added.

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