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Neck pain and injury

What Causes Neck Pain?


Neck pain or a stiff neck are extremely common can affect your life in many different ways. Whether it be sharp pain, dull muscular aches, headache, or an inability to fully move your head, a sore neck can be very frustrating yet it's simple to fix in the majority of cases!


There are many causes of neck pain. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your neck pain so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause (note! treat the cause of the pain, not the symptom of the pain!!!!).


Neck Joints and Muscles


We often find that neck joints (cervical spine) become stiff or locked much like a rusty hinge. This usually causes protective muscle spasm of some neck and shoulder muscles and weakness of others. The longer this exists, the harder it is to reverse the habit. Your neck posture alters, which strains adjacent joints and muscles, and the condition cyclically deteriorates. Ultimately you end up with a sore neck.


The interesting thing about necks is that one stiff neck joint or one weak or tight muscle can have a dramatic effect if not fixed quickly. What normally is the case is that it is a combination of your neck joints, muscle stretching, massage, acupuncture/dry needling, neural tissue, strength exercise and postural techniques that are required to reverse some well established poor habits.


Neck injuries


text neck


Text Neck is an overuse syndrome or a repetitive stress injury to the neck caused by holding your head in a forward and downward position for extended periods of time. When holding your head in this position, excessive amounts of tension are created in the deep muscles of your neck and across the shoulders causing both acute and chronic neck pain.

Signs and Symptoms of Text Neck


  • Text neck may have one or more of these signs and symptoms:

  • Instant or delayed-onset upper back or neck pain when using a handheld device

  • Nagging or sharp pain in the neck or shoulders at the end of the day or postural fatigue

  • General shoulder pain and tightness

  • Head forwards of neck posture

  • Intermittent or constant headache made worse when looking down or using the computer.


Treatment


  • Joint mobilization

  • posture correction exercises (Pilates is amazing for posture!)

  • neck stabilization exercises

  • postural taping techniques

  • soft tissue massage

  • posture and ergonomic education

  • acupuncture

  • Chiropractic treatment


 

Whiplash


Whiplash is an injury which results from sudden acceleration-deceleration forces on the neck. The term encompasses a variety issues affecting muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, discs and nerves.


Signs and Symptoms


Symptoms and severity of whiplash can vary significantly between people. The most commonly reported symptom is neck pain or stiffness. This can occur anywhere from immediately after the injury to several days later.

Symptoms may include:

  • Neck pain or stiffness

  • Headache

  • Shoulder pain

  • arm pain or upper back pain

  • Dizziness

  • Altered sensation

  • Weakness

  • Visual disturbances

  • Hearing difficulties 

  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing 

  • Difficulty concentrating


Treatment


  • Continuing your normal daily regime: Acting Normal!

  • Active treatment guided by your physiotherapist

  • Exercise to encourage flexibility

  • Strength and good posture

  • Fine neck muscle exercises

  • Acupuncture or dry needling for pain relief

  • Education on the injury: asking questions!

  • Joint mobilization or manipulation to loosen stiff joints

  • Vestibular rehabilitation if dizziness is one of your symptoms

  • Soft tissue massage may assist for short-term muscle tension relief



 

Tension Headache


Not so fun fact about me, I regularly get tension headaches due to me holding stress in my neck! because of this it was really fun to learn and write about this because it gave me more tools to treat them!


A tension headache is the most common form of a primary headache. It happens intermittently in up to 80% of the population. As the symptoms are not as severe as a migraine, Tension Headache is only considered a problem if it becomes frequent or chronic.


What are the Symptoms of a Tension Headache?


Frequent Tension Headache is recognized when the sufferer has experienced at least 10 headaches in a one month period. There are varying degrees of frequency and chronicity.


Tension Headache sufferers can experience symptoms associated with migraine such as nausea and photophobia (hypersensitive to light) or phonophobia (hypersensitive to sound), but usually only one of these symptoms.


Treatment


It's important to remember that excessive muscle tension will compress, distort or irritate joint structures that cause neck headache, which will further complicate your symptoms.

Your tension-type headache treatment may include all or some of the following techniques:

  • Stiff neck joints may need to be loosened or unlocked via joint mobilization (gentle gliding techniques), joint traction or in specific cases a gentle and localized joint manipulation technique.

  • Hyper-mobile (or dynamically unstable) joints may require specific deep neck muscle strengthening exercises to stabilize, control and limit the joint movement available.

  • Tight or overactive muscles may require stretching, massage, acupuncture, dry needling, or other relaxation techniques.

  • Weak muscles may require specific strengthening exercises. This may include your postural shoulder blade and neck muscles.

  • Nerve dysfunction. Neurosensitivity is a common finding that needs to addressed with cautious professional care and attention.

  • Posture correction may be recommended via specific exercises, posture awareness techniques, taping or a posture brace. Pilates is great for posture!

  • Stress reduction!!!! Holding stress in the form of muscle tension is a huge problem for so many people (like me!) and the only way to combat that is by making a point of relaxing, ridding yourself of stress, getting some exercise in to release endorphins, and doing some serious self care



 

There are so many more injuries and pains that can be spoken about on this post but some I will be giving their own individual post about, and some I am leaving out because they aren't something a pilates teacher is equipped to deal with fully. However, I truly believe that if we align the body, strengthen whats weak and loosen whats tight, working on posture and support, then there is a reason to go see your local pilates instructor. We are more than what we seem and I highly recommend that you try it out and find your balance, find your freedom, and find your strong.


Wishing you all the best on your journey to being the best you you can be!


Katya MacDonald

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