Neck pain: What you need to know


Neck pain is a common complaint, especially for those of us who spend significant time looking at a computer or smartphone. For many people, it’s more than just a nuisance – it can have a major effect on your life by making it hard to move freely during things like sport or work.


If you’re suffering from neck pain, understanding what’s going wrong and your options for fixing it is important to your ongoing wellbeing.


What is neck pain?


Neck pain broadly refers to pain in the area of the cervical spine and front of the neck. It’s generally located around the shoulders, but can also radiate up into your cranium and scalp, causing tension headaches or megraines1.


Neck pain might take the form of sharp, stabbing pain, nerve pain, a dull ache or numbness and tingling.


What causes neck pain?


There are many environmental and personal factors that may contribute to developing neck pain. It tends to be more common in women and in urban areas of high-income countries,2 perhaps suggesting a link to working environments.


Some of the common causes of neck pain include:

  • Muscle strain – the overuse, tearing or overstretching of muscles.

  • Facet joint sprain – pain caused by the cartilage in joints breaking down or becoming inflamed.

  • Referral from upper back or ribs – pain from these areas can be experienced as pain in the neck1.

  • Disc compression – unusual pressure on the nerves of a spinal disc. Also known as a bulging, ruptured, slipped, prolapsed or herniated disc.

  • Injury and disease – such as whiplash, or conditions such as arthritis or meningitis.


How can I fix neck pain?


Fixing neck pain is often about preventative measures that improve the position and use of your neck. To address your neck pain, you can try strategies such as:


  • Reduce overload and stress on neck. To avoid muscle strain, try to limit activities that pull on the muscle, such as carrying heavy bags or straining your neck while working.

  • Work to improve mobility. Impaired spinal mobility is almost always a feature of neck pain. Researchers have found that chiropractic manipulation of the thoracic spine can restore mobility and alleviate problems and pain in your neck3.

  • Improve posture and alignment. Studies suggest that neck pain can come along with poor posture and spinal alignment, so treating these issues can help to reduce associated neck pain3.

  • Strengthen weaknesses and imbalances in muscles. Compensating for weaknesses or issues with other groups of muscles can place undue stress on your neck, so addressing these problems is important to treatment.

  • Acupuncture, dry needling, and cupping. These treatments have all been shown to alleviate neck pain both in the short and long term4.


A chiropractor is equipped to assist you in effectively treating neck pain. When working with your chiropractor, they will assess your neck pain, looking for potential causes and any sign your pain might be related to a larger health problem.


Once it’s determined that you’re suffering from uncomplicated neck pain, including any that comes along with a headache, chiropractic care is a recommended treatment. Your chiropractor will also be able to help you determine whether treatment should be ongoing on a regular schedule, or on an as-needed basis5.


So get in touch today to book an appointment and chat to our friendly team about options for treating your neck pain.



Sources

1 R Castien, WD Hertogh,. A Neuroscience Perspective of Physical Treatment of Headache and Neck Pain, Frontiers in Neurology, 2019

2 DG Hoy, M Protani, R De, R Buchbinder,. The epidemiology of neck pain, Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology, 2010

3 S Joshi, G Balthillaya, YVR Neelapala,. Thoracic Posture and Mobility in Mechanical Neck Pain Population: A Review of the Literature, Asian Spine Journal, 2019

4 AA Berger, Y Liu. L Mosel, KA Champagne, MT Ruoff, et al,. Efficacy of Dry Needling and Acupuncture in the Treatment of Neck Pain, Anesth Pain Med, 2021

5 W Whalen, RJ Farabaugh, C Hawk, AL Minkalis, W Lauretti, LS Crivelli, L Wyatt, M Sheppard, SA Walters,. Best-Practice Recommendations for Chiropractic Management of Patients With Neck Pain, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 2019