The spinal column is an extraordinary mechanism. It keeps us stable enough to stand upright but flexible enough for movement. The backbone, or spine, is actually a stack of 24 individual bones called vertebrae.
The neck—or cervical spine—is a coordinated network of nerves, bones, joints, and muscles directed by the brain and the spinal cord. It is designed for strength, stability, and nerve communication. It is made up of seven small vertebrae that begin at the base of the skull and end at the upper chest. There are intervertebral discs that sit between each vertebra, a pair of facet joints which connect two vertebrae, the spinal cord that runs down the entire length of the spine from which nerves originate and ligaments and muscles which assist in stabilising the joints.
Pain located in the neck is a common condition and may occur for a number of reasons. Example of common conditions include degenerative disc disease, neck strain, following trauma for example whiplash, a herniated disc or pinched nerve or even just as a result of joint ageing. Pain can also come from conditions such as fibromyalgia and polymyalgia rheumatic which directly affect the muscles. Poor postural positions when at work, leisure and rest can also predispose to neck pain.
Neck pain is commonly a dull ache and can be aggravated with neck movements. Sometimes you may experience pins and needles or numbness in the arms, head or face, tenderness or shooting pain in the neck, and even dizziness or ringing in your ears.
Neck pain can usually be alleviated with self-care, such as rest, icing the area, or Improving posture. However sometimes medication is needed to reduce the pain.
Physiotherapy can be of great benefit. During the assessment the physiotherapist will complete a thorough examination of your neck and will provide the appropriate treatment. This may include some mobilisation of the joints, massage and trigger pointing along with appropriate exercises for home.
You will also be given advice on any pertinent postural issues.
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Where appropriate this can be used in conjunction with physiotherapy treatment to help realign your skeletal system.