Neck pain is a common condition presenting at Ace Sports Clinic with 1 in 5 people currently suffering from neck pain. The chance of an individual experiencing neck pain during their lifetime is 50%! The highest prevalence of neck pain is during middle age, however neck pain is on the rise in other age groups as well as we become more sedentary and technology-focused.
This is why a comprehensive plan for recovery and prevention is important. Our Ace Client Care Plans provide lasting solutions for neck pain. Overseen by one of our Ace Certified Practitioners, you will have the benefit of a highly collaborative team working with you that includes Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Exercise Specialists.
Have you ever had neck pain & felt like you were left lost without a direction to help manage the pain?
We understand that each person’s experience of neck pain is different, which is why we provide each client with an individualised plan and specialist treatment based on their unique needs. We appreciate that each episode of neck pain is distinct and requires listening, empathy and understanding before a successful outcome can be obtained. Our Ace Certified Practitioners will ask you all the appropriate questions to find out exactly what happened, why and how. This then allows us to devise a solution just for you.
Our Ace Certified Practitioners who are highly trained in Neck Pain Relief can perform the following to help you:
- Assessment of your neck, posture and movement to identify causative structures
- Soft tissue treatment to muscles to relieve tension, stress and muscle spasm
- Advanced Dry needling for pain relief and to decrease muscle tension through the elimination of any trigger points that can radiate and cause pain
- Spinal manipulation to reduce pain, stiffness and increase your mobility
- Identify any muscle imbalances through functional and strength testing
- Prescribe strengthening, stretching and mobility exercises to improve your movement and prevent recurrences
- Collaboration of our multidisciplinary healthcare team to evaluate and improve all aspects of your health and wellbeing
What types of neck pain do we treat?
We treat both acute and chronic neck pain for all age groups. Whether your neck pain resulted from desk work or too much screen time, sleeping in an uncomfortable position or from a traumatic experience such as a car accident, we can help you.
Acute Neck Pain
Acute neck pain is classified as pain that has been around for less than 3 months. Acute neck pain can occur following a sudden or quick jerking movement, sleeping awkwardly, or a motor vehicle accident. It can feel quite severe and debilitating and may result in feelings of sharp pain and even headaches.
Acute neck pain can be so severe that you may feel like you have lost all range of motion. It may be difficult to turn your head to do simple tasks such a head checks in the car, sleep comfortably or it may even affect the ability to lift your arms up to wash your hair. The pain is often accompanied with muscle tightness and sharp pain and may even cause referred pain, or pins and needles down the arm. Due to the effect it can have on our lives, it is important to act on acute neck pain sooner, rather than later, so that you can begin to experience relief.
The quickest way to help acute neck pain is with pain management, addressing muscular spasm and getting the neck moving again. Rest may be required if a headache accompanies the neck pain, however getting the neck moving early on often produces better outcomes.
When treated early, outcomes for acute neck pain can be quite good. A prognosis for acute neck pain can be as short as a week and up to 4-6 weeks to get better. Returning the neck range of motion is key, as is addressing the neck musculature spasm. Treatment most commonly involves gentle mobility exercises, pain management advice, and hands on gentle treatment to help reduce the muscle guarding.
Your therapist will provide you with a complete diagnosis, the latest evidence-based advice, and a clear plan to get you back to doing what you love. We will also help you identify factors that contributed to the neck pain and provide you with a clear plan to prevent it in the future.
Chronic Neck Pain
Chronic neck pain is pain that has persisted for longer than three months. Chronic neck pain is often a recurring episode of pain or neck pain that never entirely goes away. Neck pain can be felt anywhere between the base of the skull and the upper shoulder region and it may spread to the head or into the upper back or arm regions.
Chronic neck pain often occurs as a result of repetitive minor strains or repeated activities such as turning or holding the head in poor postures and positions. Examples of where chronic neck pain can occur is by repetitively sleeping in awkward and poor positions, working at an ill-fitted desk, or even from regular use of a heavy or ill-fitted handbag or bag being carried on one shoulder. Psychological stressors are also important to consider with chronic neck pain as a build of stress is often held through the neck and shoulders.
Chronic neck pain can lead to nerve compression if not addressed causing pain and tingling down the arms and can also cause headaches.
Therefore, it is important to see a therapist who can help you to identify the cause of your chronic neck pain to prevent it from progressing. Your therapist will do a thorough examination of not only the neck but the shoulder, upper back, upper limbs and even the jaw. A discussion around repetitive activities, poor postures and pillow choice may also be held to help identify the causative factors around your neck pain.
Due to the many factors involved with chronic neck pain, a collaborative approach is always required. One of our health professionals can help to identify the cause around your neck pain and develop a clear plan that will allow you to get back to doing what you love.
Headache & Migraine
Headaches are most commonly caused from musculoskeletal issues such as muscle strain or joint sprains causing referred pain to the head. While there can be more sinister causes for headaches, these are often accompanied with a range of symptoms and occur less commonly. It is important to consult a health professional as they are trained in identifying the causes of your headache and can help to rule out these more sinister causes.
Tight knots in muscles or trigger points can cause referred pain to other areas of the body. It is unsurprising then that quite a few of these muscles refer to the head and cause head pain, or headaches. Jaw dysfunction, bruxism (grinding teeth), stress and joint dysfunction can also all cause headaches.
These type of headaches can be easily helped with hands on treatment, exercise and identifying the cause of the headache. Management involves looking at the head and neck, upper back, jaw, posture, sleeping position and desk set-up, as well as current life stressors.
Other causes such as eye strain, dehydration, food triggers and high blood pressure can be excluded through a comprehensive case history and examination. This then helps to formulate an individualised treatment plan to relieve the headache and manage or eliminate the underlying causes.
Migraines are another cause of head pain which are categorized as with aura or without an aura. A migraine headache is quite severe and may be accompanied with visual disturbances, light sensitivity, vomiting and nausea and may be relieved with rest. Migraines are commonly triggered by certain foods or an increase in stress. The cause of pain is often attributed to a dilation of blood vessels in the skull as it surrounds the brain. This is why some medications and rest often help relieve the migraine, whereas physical activity can worsen the pain.
Most migraines, if not all, are accompanied by neck and shoulder muscle tightness and joint restriction which may result in an increase in frequency and intensity of a migraine. Migraine medication is therefore not the only option in those who are suffering. Many migraine sufferers respond favourably to treatment addressing the neck musculature and joints, stretching and strengthening exercises, postural advice and stress management.
Mechanical Neck Pain
Mechanical neck pain is the most common type of neck pain, and often occurs from sustained postures or movements that cause strain to the muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints of the spine.
Mechanical neck pain can range from a feeling of deep aching, annoying pain to sharp and intense pain.
Mechanical neck pain responds favourably to treatment interventions such as hands on manual therapy, exercise intervention and postural advice. A collaborative approach to treatment often yields the best outcomes through addressing all the factors causing the neck pain and improving function.
Whiplash is the term used to describe an acute injury to the neck following a motor vehicle accident, most commonly a rear-ended collision. Whiplash can begin quite acutely at the time of the accident or develop in the following days after the incident. Whiplash symptoms can last from a few weeks to a few months, and early intervention is key to prevent long lasting issues.
Early treatment involves advice and education, gentle mobility exercises, gentle hands on treatment towards the soft tissues and joints, and strengthening exercises. Positivity and reducing life stressors is also important as stress can prolong the healing of the neck pain. Our collaborative team-based approach with both manual therapy and exercise has helped many of our clients recover fully from whiplash.
Wry neck is a term used to describe a sudden onset of neck pain where the neck becomes temporarily stiff and painful. Turning the head or looking up can become acutely painful and some of the neck motion may be lost. Often, the neck muscles will go into spasm on either one or both sides, and you may feel pain traveling from the neck down to the tip of the shoulder or the shoulder blade.
Causes of acute wry neck include sleeping in an awkward position, an improper pillow, sudden jerking or jarring movements of the head and carrying heavy, unbalanced loads.
Treatment of an acute wry neck involves pain management advice, hands on treatment, exercises, and advice on prevention of reoccurrence.
Cervical radiculopathy happens when neck problems cause nerve compression or inflammation. This results in radicular arm pain that can present as severe pain down the arm, numbness, tingling and even weakness. If nerve compression is occurring with radicular arm pain, it is important to get the neck assessed immediately by an Ace Certified Practitioner for treatment. Without proper treatment, nerve compression can lead to long term problems.
Cervical radiculopathy can be caused by a herniated or prolapsed disc, or may occur as a result of neck degeneration and osteoarthritis. Contributing factors involve muscle tightness, poor posture and repetitive neck strain such as desk work and poor sleeping positions. A collaborative multidisciplinary approach to care is required to deliver best results and improve your function.
Referred Neck Pain
Referred neck pain occurs when muscles that attach into the neck, shoulders or upper back become overly tight and inflamed and cause pain. This can result in headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain and upper back pain with active trigger points being one common cause.
A thorough examination and diagnosis of the neck, upper back, upper limbs and posture is performed to identify muscle tightness, imbalances and joint restrictions. Treatment may involve soft tissue massage, muscle energy techniques, dry needling, strengthening exercises, and postural advice.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition with its incidence increasing as we age. Osteoarthritis occurs in any joints of the body that have been under repetitive load, stress or overuse over our lifetime. Neck (or cervical) osteoarthritis can be a result of repetitive poor posture, poor sleeping habits, trauma or carrying a heavy handbag on one shoulder.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain and stiffness and can also involve weakness of surrounding musculature. If left un-managed it can also cause headaches through tightening of the neck muscles and joint dysfunction. Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, it can be managed effectively by facilitating movement with mobility exercises, strengthening exercises and gentle soft tissue and joint mobilization.
What can cause neck pain?
Some of the causes of neck pain that we commonly see include:
Good posture is important for optimal human movement. With the increased use of computers, smartphones and tablets, we are seeing more neck pain from repetitive poor postures. Our clients range from young students constantly on their iPads, to office workers sitting and working at poorly designed desks. This sustained low-load, long duration stress can lead to chronic changes through repetitive microtrauma. Some symptoms of poor posture include muscle aches and pain, restricted neck rotation, mid and low back pain and headaches and tingling. Everyday activities can become painful and recently, sitting has been identified “as the new smoking” based on the adverse long term effects it can have on our bodies.
Through helping you develop self-awareness of what is good posture, training you to perform all your daily activities with proper posture, and strengthening the correct muscles, we can help relieve your neck pain, release stress and improve your productivity.
Neck Muscle Strain or Ligament Sprain
A neck strain or sprain can happen suddenly or develop slowly over time from repetitive movements. Sleeping awkwardly, having incorrect desk posture, repetitive slouching, carrying heavy objects or a sudden movement with the head can all result in a muscle strain. This can lead to pain, swelling and restrictions in movement.
A correct diagnosis, proper acute care, massage and restoration of joint and muscle movement leads to a quicker rehabilitation and return to daily activities/sport.
Cervical Disc Prolapse or Herniated Disc
The terms “slipped disc” or “bulging disc” are often used to refer to a disc prolapse in the spine, most commonly occuring in lower back and also in in the neck. Intervertebral discs are located between vertebral bone and function as shock absorbers for the spine. Discs are made up of an inner jelly-like center with a high water content (nucleus pulposus), and an outer fibrous part (annulus fibrosus), and rely on good movement at each spinal segment to get their nutrition to remain healthy. A disc prolapse can occur when the inner nucleus protrudes through the outer annulus. This can irritate or impinge a nearby nerve root. Some herniated discs cause minimal symptoms while others can result in local pain, asymmetrical posture or numbness, or tingling or weakness that can radiate down the arm or leg.
A prolapsed disc in the neck can occur after acute trauma such as a car accident, or be degenerative after years of micro-trauma. Holding the neck in repetitive poor postures can cause an increase in load through the disc causing micro tears which build over years.
A prolapsed disc itself is pain sensitive and can cause nerve root impingement. This nerve impingement can result in pins and needles down the arm, as well as pain and possible muscle weakness down the arm.
Facet Joint Sprain
Each intervertebral segment has two facet joints that guide the spinal motion. The orientation of these joints determines how each part of the spine moves. These synovial joints of the spine are located behind each intervertebral disc and are surrounded by a capsule that has a rich nerve supply. Facet joint pain can either be of sudden or gradual onset. Typically, with this type of mechanical neck pain, the neck has been held in an awkward position, such as while sleeping, for an extended period of time or there has been an acute jarring motion, such as in a car accident. Most cases of facet joint sprain will lead to pain, stiffness and a decrease in the motion of the joint.
A motor vehicle accident is the most common cause of whiplash and usually occurs from a rear end collision. A rear end collision results in the head and neck being moved forward in a quick motion with an even quicker jarring as the neck then moves backwards. This acute jarring motion results in both the joints and the muscles of the neck becoming sprained and strained. Pain may be felt instantly or develop a few days after the incident. Acute muscular guarding occurs as a result of the body trying to protect the neck from the quick motion that occurred during the accident. Addiontionally, there is often a facet joint sprain and in some severe cases there may even be a disc prolapse or fracture.
Initial treatment is typically aimed at reducing the muscular guarding, regaining range of motion and pain relief. If extra symptoms such as referred pain or weakness down the arms occur and do not resolve, imaging may be required.
Whiplash can last from a few weeks to a few months and early intervention is key in preventing any longer lasting issues.
Early treatment involves advice and education, gentle mobility exercises, gentle hands on soft tissue and joint mobilization, and deep core strengthening exercises. Our supportive team will encourage and help you stay positive to aide your recovery.
Treatment, for all types of neck pain, starts with an accurate assessment to determine the best way forward for you. Our Ace Client Care Plans are tailored to your specific needs and involve proactive treatments, the latest advice and quality products necessary to give you the fastest recovery.
Our bodies are remarkable and when provided with the right care, exercise and nutrition, can recover from neck pain and return to activities we love. At Ace Sports Clinics, we work as a team to improve your quality of life and restore your freedom and ability to do what you want, when you want. Trusted internationally by the world’s best athletes, we have helped many clients recover from their neck pain. Call to book your appointment today to see how the Ace Client Care Plan can help you.