Neck pain is one of the most common forms of pain affecting people in the UK. It’s also one of the most serious in that it affects the spine and can significantly impact your quality of life if it's not dealt with quickly
Your neck has a major responsibility. Upon it sits the not-insubstantial weight of your head and, through the spine, it carries your spinal cord and nerves to the rest of the body. It’s a vital link.
However, because of injury, postural weakness or other factors, such as desk working or needing to look at a screen for long periods of the day, neck pain is more common.
You may have just woken up this morning with a pain in your neck. Unless there’s a blatant cause, like a jarring trauma, repetitive strain or a pull from heavy or awkward lifting, your neck pain could be completely out of the blue. One thing's for sure, neck pain can leave you fatigued and unable to function properly in your everyday life.
That's why you often need to do a little detective work to discover the cause of your neck pain. Without knowing the cause, even if the pain subsides this time, it may return.
If you’re active, neck pain means exercise is usually off the cards. But if sitting on the sofa watching TV or trying to turn your head to have a conversation causes you to wince, it needs attention.
A stiff neck is usually caused by a tightening of your neck muscles. This may be a result of poor posture over time which causes the muscles in your neck to tighten. It can also be caused by emotional stress and holding tension in the head, neck and shoulders.
Whether it’s a dull ache or a sharp pain, the most significant effect is the rapid loss of neck mobility. Having neck pain makes you feel tender and weak and can affect things like sleep and your mood.
There may be some aspects of your lifestyle which could be hindering your recovery.
These can be anything from overworking (physical and emotional), high levels of stress, poor posture and lack of exercise. With an increasing percentage of adults in office jobs and looking at screens - whether a smartphone or a monitor - it’s no surprise, long term neck injuries are becoming more common.
Waking up with a sore neck never bodes well for the rest of the day. And when the pain never really subsides it’s enough to leave you always tired. Neck pain is a condition which can lead to anxiety and depression, especially when combined with a high-stress lifestyle.
What do you need to do to never wake up with neck pain again?
If the pain is dull and you only incurred your injury in the last couple of days, taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may relieve the pain. However, this is only a temporary measure to relieve the pain. After this, seeking hands-on advice is the best thing you can do to relieve the pain and work out what has caused the neck pain in the first instance.
There are measures our various therapists can use to get you out of pain, “fix” your neck and protect your recovery by working on those actions which may have caused the neck pain in the first place.