The neck is a complex structure that links our head and body. The neck contains a complex network of nerves, blood vessels, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Because the neck contains so many structures and has such a large range of motion, it can be prone to injury. The neck muscles are constantly working to hold the weight of the head. Due to high use, the neck can often become a stress-point.
Neck injuries are a common problem, two-thirds of the population will have neck pain at some point in their lives.
What is the function of the neck?
- Allowing movement of the head
- Protecting vital structures of the nervous and circulatory system
The cervical (neck) vertebrae are specially designed to enable the largeranges of movement required by the neck.
The first two vertebrae, C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis), allow the skull to twist on the spine, and some slight nodding movement.
The following vertebrae, C3-C7 allow the neck to bend forward and backward, letting you look down or up.
The movements of the neck are carried out by a large number muscles. Many small ligaments also help to stabilise the joints between each vertebrae
In between each vertebrae, a pair of nerves exit the spinal cord and travel down the neck towards the shoulder. There are also several large blood vessels carrying blood to and from the head and brain.
Symptoms of neck pain
Because of the large amount of structures in the neck, symptoms can vary widely. Some of the most common symptoms of neck pain include:
- Pain spreading into the shoulder, arm, hand, or in between the shoulder blades
- Numbness or tingling in the arm and hand
- Decreased range of motion in the neck and shoulders
- Loss of coordination
Common causes of neck pain
- Prolonged postures: eg. using a computer or falling asleep in an awkward position, holding a child
- Muscular strains, overuse, or deconditioning
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Pinched nerves
- Injuries to intervertebral discs
- Abnormalities in the muscle, bone, nervous, or circulatory structure of the neck
- Wry Neck
Do I need an X-Ray or Scan?
It can be difficult to identify the precise source of neck pain even after scans. Often findings on a scan do not agree with symptoms you are feeling. For example, some people may have degenerative changes on X-Rays, but have no pain.
Scans may be necessary following traumatic accidents to exclude severe injuries. They may also be useful to monitor degeneration over long periods of time.
Can a physiotherapist help with neck pain?
You don’t need a doctor’s referral to see a physiotherapist for your neck pain. The physiotherapists at Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy will carry out a thorough assessment to correctly identify the source of your pain, discomfort, or limited mobility. We can then implement effective treatment and get you on the road to recovery.
Treatment may include:
- Soft tissue and trigger point massage
- Mobilisation or manipulation of the joints.
- Individualised exercise program to promote strength and flexibility
- Relaxation therapy
- Postural correction
If you are experiencing neck pain, book an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists. Book online or call us today on 07 3352 5116.