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Neck Pain is Common but Not Normal
The number of people in the UK experiencing neck pain and/or back pain in the past 5 years is on the rise, with the number of sufferers increasing from 40% of the population to 49%. In addition, there has been a 16% increase in the number of people experiencing back or neck pain to some degree every month. The British Chiropractic Association has stated that as much as 65% of the British population will experience back and/or neck pain at some point in their life. (British Chiropractic Association, 2018).
What Are the Causes of Neck Pain?
The major causes of neck pain are ;
- Posture – In particular rounded shoulders and forward head posture. The major trigger for this is a sedentary lifestyle like working at a desk / at a computer. With the increase in people working desk jobs and working on computers or using their phones and tablets recreationally (text neck), it should come as no surprise that 45% of the UK population identify these as triggers for their neck pain. (British Chiropractic Association, 2018).
- Physical Activity – Sport, like weight lifting and running are key triggers of back and neck pain (British Chiropractic Association, 2018). These exercises, while offer many health benefits, also come with associated challenges. The impact and strain that it put through the spine from various exercises can put stress on the spinal joints restricting movement and causing stiffness and pain.
- Technology – as we briefly touched on above, the increase in use of technology like mobiles phones, tablets, video consoles and laptops, for prolonged periods of time has a significant impact of structures of the spine. This behaviour is not limited to the younger generations. There is a direct correlation between mobile phone usage and neck and shoulder pain (Al-Hadidi et al, 2019). The flexed neck position angling downwards and forwards puts an enormous amount of stress on the neck, shortening and tightening the muscles and compressing the nerves to cause neurological dysfunction, intense pain and spasms.
- Trauma – this can any form of contact injury/accident that causes a structural change to the spine and any injury to the associated soft tissues.
What Do People Experience with Neck Pain?
“Neck pain usually involves one or more of the following symptoms and signs:
- Stiff neck. Soreness and difficulty moving the neck, especially when trying to turn the head from side to side.
- Sharp pain. This pain may be localised to one spot and might feel like it is stabbing or stinging. This type of pain typically occurs in the lower neck.
- General soreness. This discomfort is typically felt in a broader area or region of the neck. It is described as tender or achy, not sharp.
- Radicular pain. This pain can radiate along a nerve from the neck into the shoulder and arm. The intensity can vary and this nerve pain is often described as burning or searing.
- Cervical radiculopathy. Neurological deficits—such as problems with reflexes, sensation, or strength—may be experienced in the arm due to nerve root compression. Cervical radiculopathy may also be accompanied by radicular pain.
- Trouble with gripping or lifting objects. This problem can happen if numbness or weakness goes into the arm or fingers.
- Headaches. Sometimes an irritation in the neck can affect muscles and nerves connected to the head. Some examples include tension headache, cervicogenic headache, and occipital neuralgia” (Curtis, 2019).
These are all common signs and symptoms that we as Chiropractors see in practice on a daily basis due to those causal factors described above. These can either be acute (sudden onset) or chronic (long lasting), however for some people the frequency may vary, the pain may come on intermittently and rear it’s ugly head every few days, weeks, or even months. In most cases there has usually been a few episodes of neck pain, however if the symptoms don’t resolve within 12 weeks and the pain persists despite taking medication then the condition is considered chronic which affects 1 in 5 people in Scotland (Nhsinform.scot, 2018).
How Can Chiropractic Help with Neck Pain?
A chiropractor can often help correct the underlying structural and functional causes of neck pain. By listening to your history and getting a firm understanding of your symptoms and the affect they are having on your day to day living we can begin to uncover the specific issues causing your problem. The most important step when people experience neck pain is to find the cause of the problem so they know the best way to manage and correct the underlying issue.
We do this by performing a detailed physical assessment and take spinal X-Rays if clinically indicated in order to rule out other pathologies and locate where the greatest area of stress is on the spine.
Once we have identified the problem and have determined if chiropractic care is the best option for you, we can then begin treatment. Chiropractic adjustments restore the motion and improve the alignment to the spinal joints, remove the stress and tension throughout the muscles of the neck and provide an overall sense of relief.
Chiropractic intervention has been proven to improve outcomes for the treatment of acute (sudden onset) and chronic (long lasting) neck pain (Bryans et al., 2014). If your pain or symptoms are persisting then consider visiting your local Chiropractor for a consultation and assessment to see if they can help you get back to feeling well.
- British Chiropractic Association. (2018). Back pain experienced more frequently in the UK – British Chiropractic Association. [online] Available at: https://chiropractic-uk.co.uk/back-pain-experienced-frequently-uk/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].
- Al-Hadidi, F., Bsisu, I., AlRyalat, S.A., Al-Zu’bi, B., Bsisu, R., Hamdan, M., Kanaan, T., Yasin, M. and Samarah, O. (2019). Association between mobile phone use and neck pain in university students: A cross-sectional study using numeric rating scale for evaluation of neck pain. PLOS ONE, [online] 14(5), p.e0217231. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527223/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].
- Curtis, S. (2019). Neck Pain Symptoms. [online] Spine-health. Available at: https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/neck-pain-symptoms [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].
- Bryans, R., Decina, P., Descarreaux, M., Duranleau, M., Marcoux, H., Potter, B., Ruegg, R.P., Shaw, L., Watkin, R. and White, E. (2014). Evidence-Based Guidelines for the Chiropractic Treatment of Adults With Neck Pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 37(1), pp.42–63.
- Nhsinform.scot. (2018). Chronic pain. [online] Available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/brain-nerves-and-spinal-cord/chronic-pain.
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