What’s causing my neck pain?

By Dr Olivia White (Osteopath)

Most people have experienced neck pain but it can present in many different ways. This might include headaches and pain in the muscles, joints, ligaments or nerves that run through the cervical spine. 

It can be caused by everyday activities like an uncomfortable sleeping position, stress, poor office ergonomics or prolonged straining (looking down at our phones) as well as acute traumas such as falls or car accidents.

Here are some of the more common presentations of neck pain.

Neck & shoulder soreness (Photo by Klara Kulikova on Unsplash)
Neck pain

General neck and shoulder pain

This can be caused by entrapment of the nerves which originate in the neck and can refer down your shoulder or arm. It might be triggered by sleeping awkwardly, incorrect overhead lifting technique (perhaps at the gym) or poor ergonomics if you sit at a desk for extended periods.

Symptoms include muscle tightness, numbness or tingling down the arm, and pain during some shoulder and neck movements

Acute wry neck

If you’ve ever woken in the morning with your neck feeling a bit stuck then you may have experienced an episode of acute wry neck. This occurs when the facets and muscles in the neck spasm, causing a lot of pain and tightness. This can be triggered by sleeping awkwardly either in bed or on the couch.

Symptoms include neck pain, the neck becoming fixed in a side-bent position, muscle spasm, and sometimes a headache.

Whiplash injuries 

Any type of injury caused by a rapid acceleration or deceleration force, such as a car accident or a fall can be described by whiplash and its associated injuries. It occurs when the muscles and ligaments that provide stability through the neck are injured.

Symptoms include neck pain, muscle spasm, headaches, pins and needles down the arm, and in more severe cases, a fracture.

Early management of all these types of injuries is vital in order to prevent prevent chronic neck related pain or dysfunction. Your Osteopath will use a thorough examination and history to determine the cause of your neck pain. They will then create a specific treatment and rehabilitation program that addresses your particular type of neck pain in a way that suits your lifestyle. To find out if one of our Osteopaths can help with your neck pain, get in touch any time.