Back and neck pain

As a society, we lead a very sedentary lifestyle with a high percentage of the population spending excessive hours sat at a computer desk with poor posture at work. Being in this seated position over sustained periods of time can cause your neck and upper back muscles to become tight and overworked; causing neck pain, shoulder tightness and stiffness, headaches and shoulder pain. Neck and shoulder injuries can be categorised into acute and chronic conditions.

Acute injuries which occur to the neck and upper back, often occur following trauma to the area such as through sport or in a road traffic accident (Known as RTA’s). These can present with sudden pain and inability to move the neck, referred symptoms into the arms and hands, numbness, loss of sensation, severe headaches, loss of vision or blurred vision, weakness in the hand or arm and inability to lift the arm above a certain range of motion.

Whiplash is a common injury in motor vehicle accidents, as well as in contact sports. Typically the patient does not report pain immediately. Instead, depending on the severity of the injury, there is a gradual onset of pain which may increase in intensity in the 48-72 hours post injury. Damage can occur to the soft tissue surrounding the neck, as well as the joints and disks. Mobilisation of the affected joints combined with heat therapy and soft tissue mobilisation are very effective at treating this condition.

Muscle Strain
Caused due to direct trauma, such as whiplash, by staying in the same position over long periods such as when sleeping or driving and through carrying heavy objects on one side of the body. This can cause neck stiffness, as well as pain and difficulty when turning or moving the neck.

Nerve Root Compression
A pinched/ compressed nerve causes shooting pain radiating down the arm and hand. This pain can be the result of nerves being impinged by degenerative disc, bulging or herniated disc, bone spur, arthritis of the facet joint or sometimes due to overly tight muscles.

Burners and Stingers
These are very common in contact or collision sports. A burner or a stinger is an injury which occurs to the nerve supply of the upper arm, either at the neck or shoulder. The injury is named for the stinging or burning pain that spreads from the shoulder to the hand, which can feel like an electric shock or lightening bolt down the arm. Symptoms, in most cases, are temporary and decrease very quickly.

Chronic neck injuries occur over time and often worsen if the aggravating activity is continued. These injuries will be seen more in people who work in an environment where they spend a lot of time seated over a desk or computer and often present with pain which gradually worsens throughout the day, tightness and stiffness around the neck and upper back, rounding of the shoulders and a poor posture, constant pins and needles down the arm or loss of feeling.

Muscle Tightness
Tightness in the neck and shoulders often occurs due to a poor and rounded posture. Muscle tightness in the neck and shoulder area can be very painful and can cause headaches and neck stiffness.

Intervertebral Ligament Sprain
Intervertebral sprains are ligament injuries to any of the ligaments of the spine. This can happen in any part of the spine, although the neck and upper back are more common and it often occurs when there is direct trauma to the area and therefore is quite common in contact sports.

Thoracic Outlet syndrome
This is a term which is used to describe the compression or irritation of blood vessels or nerves which travel from the neck to the armpit, also known as the brachial plexus. Symptoms include neck, arm and shoulder pain and numbness into the arm and sometimes into the hand aswell.

If you are currently struggling with any of these conditions or have neck and upper back pain, all our sports therapists are fully qualified to treat these symptoms and can provide you with treatment and a rehabilitation programme tailored to your needs.