NECK pain is a common ailment and it’s thought around one in three people are affected each year.
Most of the time neck pain only lasts a few weeks, but it can be uncomfortable and in some cases can disrupt your daily life.
Now one physiotherapist has revealed the five main causes for the issue and how you can treat it.
Ashleigh Wienand, clinical director and lead physiotherapist at Ultra Sports Clinic said up to 70 per cent of the population will experience the issue at some time in their life.
Sadly – up to 80 per cent of these people will never fully resolve the problem, she added.
The expert said that the main reason people report neck pain, is due to poor posture.
She explained: “Poor ergonomics in the workplace and sports activities predispose the neck to injuries from exercises like cycling and swimming.
“This is due to sustained or repetitive movements of the neck”.
However, she added that you’re also likely to experience back pain if you don’t do much physical activity and as a result, have weak muscles.
The guru said that weak shoulder and neck muscles predispose the neck to pain and injuries.
As well as this, sleeping positions like snoozing with your neck in rotation can have a negative impact.
Ashleigh added that a pinched nerve or compression of the nerves is another top culprit when it comes to neck pain.
“This will happen when a structure close to the nerve is damaged and compresses on the nerve like a herniated disc,” she said.
The fourth most common cause, she added, is injury from an incident.
She said: “Motor vehicle accidents like whiplash injuries can injure the muscles, ligaments, intervertebral discs, nerves or in more severe cases fractures of the vertebrae.
“If you are experiencing next pain any time after an accident this may be the cause behind it.”
When to see a GP
You might have gotten used to your neck pain, but you shouldn’t put up with it.
The NHS states that you shouldn’t experience the pain for longer than two weeks.
Here’s when you should see your GP
- if the pain lasts longer than a couple of weeks
- if painkillers aren’t working
- you’re worried about the pain
- you have other symptoms such as pins and needles or a cold arm
Medics state if you’re experiencing pain then you should avoid doing anything that could be dangerous because you can’t move your neck, such as driving or cycling.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you should also keep your neck moving and don’t wear a neck collar.
Lastly, she said age can also be a determiner of pain.
“This is normal in the general population and involves all your joints in your body.
“10 per cent of adults will experience degeneration before the age of 30 and most people over the age of 50.
“The shock-absorbing intervertebral discs become flatter and lose their cushioning properties as we age which is the cause behind this.
“Other contributing factors to neck pain can include low social support, burnout, increased levels of stress, anger, depression and auto-immune diseases,” she added.
How to treat it
Just because neck pain is common, it doesn’t mean it should be ignored and Ashley said there are a few ways you can alleviate the issue.
“Posture correction and Improving your desk setup.
“Correcting your posture is one of the main ways to prevent neck pain and if you work at a desk most days, ensuring you have the right desk set up which is comfortable for you and creates a healthy posture is key.
“Adjusting your desk and chair level if needed is important.
“Take frequent breaks during the day and perform neck stretches- allowing your body to relax is important as straining or remaining in the same position for long periods of time can risk neck pain over time.”
She added that you should also assess factors outside of work like carrying a heavy bag or eyesight.
“Lifting heavy weight with the wrong body form can cause neck pain so it is important to be wary of this if you are attempting to lift a heavy bag or you’re new to weightlifting in the gym.
“Eyesight is another factor outside of your working life that is linked to neck pain so ensure that you are going for regular check-ups,” she added.
The NHS states you can also relieve the pain by taking ibuprofen or paracetamol or using the gel on your neck.
As well as this, you should also try and use a low, firm pillow and put heat or cold packs on your neck.
“Try to stay active – continue with your usual daily activities as much as possible,” they added.