NECK PAIN & HEADACHES
One of the most common causes of neck pain, this condition relates to poor postural habits that give rise to neck pain. Sitting for long hours at a computer, using hand held devices, such as phones and iPads, and poor sleeping postures are common aggravating activities. Typically sufferers display muscle imbalance, in particular tightness through the muscles in the back of the neck and the chest, and weakness in the deeper muscles that stabilise the spine.
Acute Wry Neck
Ever woken up in the morning with a really stiff and painful neck? If so you have suffered from acute wry neck. This condition is typically caused by 'locking' of one or more of the facet joints in the spine (small joints located on each side of adjacent vertebrae). This 'locking' causes pain and stiffness in the joint and spasm of the surrounding muscles. Sufferers will commonly find that their neck is fixed in an abnormal position, usually flexed forward and rotated away from the side of pain. Trying to move it from this position is very painful. This condition does settle relatively quickly, usually within a few days. Physiotherapy helps speed up the recovery time in most causes.
Discogenic Neck Pain
Discogenic neck pain refers to pain caused by damage to one of the discs sitting between each vertebrae. This can either be an irritation of the disc, a bulge or protruding disc, or in more severe cases, a herniation of the disc. If the disc bulge or protrusion is causing irritation to a spinal nerve, referred pain and pins & needles or numbness down into the arm and hand is not uncommon. Causes of disc injury can be traumatic, such as from an accident, or general wear and tear over time.
Whiplash is an injury characterised by a forceful forwards then backwards movement of the head and neck, causing damage to the joints, discs, ligaments and/or muscles of the neck. Typically it occurs when you are hit from behind in a car accident, but can also occur from other activities where a similar mechanism of injury occurs, such as a fall or a tackle.
Headaches associated with neck pain (known as cervicogenic headaches or CGH) are one of the leading causes of headache. CGH can present either on one side or both sides of the head, typically starting around the base of the skull or neck and migrating around to the front. Occasionally sufferers may also complain of arm or shoulder pain. The headache and neck pain can often be aggravated by certain postures or activities. Read more about cervicogenic headache here.