The human head is very heavy and we rely on our necks to support this. The neck is made up of seven bones called vertebrae and the vertebrae are cushioned by spongy structures called “intervertebral discs”.

The vertebrae and discs are bound together by a complex network of ligaments. The muscles provide the neck with both movement as well as extra support.

The neck is very mobile and because the neck joints have a greater range of movement, they are less stable and are more susceptible to injury.

The cause of chronic neck pain:

Most people with chronic neck pain do not have any damage to their spine. The pain comes from the muscles, ligaments and joints. More persistent neck pain may also be associated with arthritis of the facet joints and degeneration of the discs.

The most common cause of chronic neck pain in the neck is due to dysfunction of the facet joints.

These are the small articulation joints at the back of the spine.

When one of the joints becomes irritated it usually results is muscle spasm in the area. Pain may be cased by either the primary facet joint irritation or the secondary muscle spasm or a combination of the two.

Facet joint irritation may result from trauma, such as a whiplash injury or from being held in sustained positions, such as when painting a ceiling or with postural conditions.

In a large number of cases, chronic neck pain is caused from a misalignment in posture, which places the neck under an increased load.

How posture affects the neck:

It is a common habit that when tired or sitting in one position for a long period, that the shoulders begin to become more rounded and then the head is held in more of a forward posture.

This type of posture places the neck muscles under significant strain and the force required to hold the head up is increased considerably when the neck is off centre.

How you can help your neck:

  • Exercise regularly – to increase strength and flexibility. Regularly stretching the neck and shoulder muscles can considerably reduce reoccurring neck pain

  • Be aware of your posture – consider your posture, particularly when seated, such as sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Please see our computer/desk article for more information.

  • Take regular breaks – sitting or standing for long periods of time, take regular breaks to change the position of your joints and loosen your muscles.

  • Relaxation – learn some relaxation techniques to reduce stress levels and subsequent muscle tension.

  • Pain management – try self massage, heat or cold applications and gentle exercise

  • Check your sleeping posture – on average we spend 30% of our lives sleeping so it is important to sleep with a good posture as well. Sleeping on too many pillows can aggravate a sore neck. Its best to try sleep with one good pillow, keeping the neck in neutral plane. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach.

How A&B Myotherapy can help:

  • Assessment of your neck and posture

  • Soft tissue release of tight shortened muscles

  • Dry needling for pain relief

  • Assessment of your muscle balance including length and strength testing

  • Prescription of strengthening and stretching exercises