Neck Pain

Neck Pain : How It Feels

Neck pain is very common particularly as we get older. Our lifestyle and occupation often contribute to the postures and positions we hold our neck in and this contributes to the cause of a staff and painful neck.

Unless caused by a sudden trauma, neck pain often begins gradually from repetitive and prolonged periods of movements, positions and postures that strain the muscles around the neck and irritate the nerves.

You might also feel:

  • Constant dull ache across the neck or on one side of the neck
  • Sharp piercing or poking pain with specific movement Frequent headaches
  • Restricted movement with pain, trouble looking over your shoulder

Neck problems frequently refer pain to the shoulder, even down to the hands. It can include numbness, pins and needles, a sense of weakness in the arm or hand. Likewise a shoulder injury can refer pain up to the neck.


The Impact Of Neck Pain

Neck pain and stiffness can make the simplest of tasks a trial, can stop you sleeping and affect your ability to turn and drive. Many patients report feelings of nausea and headaches as a result of neck pain.

You can’t sit comfortably, you have a headache, turning your head sends a lightening bolt of pain through your neck and shoulders, you are grumpy and tired and the discomfort is making a good night’s sleep impossible.

Treating neck pain means finding the underlying cause.

Sitting at a poorly set up office space at home and hot-desking at work.

Spring cleaning and DIY jobs straining your neck as you cut hedges and hang curtains.

Old or uncomfortable pillows not giving your head and neck the right support and alignment.

Lack of mobility, referred pain and particularly numbness can make you concerned that there is something more serious at work.


The Mechanics Of Neck Pain

Neck pain can develop suddenly from an injury, or it may develop slowly over time, from years of poor posture or wear and tear.
Whether whiplash, sustained poor posture or repetitive activity the damage over time can result in irritation of the nerves, resulting in neck pain.
The most common cause of neck pain with referred arm symptoms is a bulging disc or spinal joint problem caused by poor posture.
Your neck is very mobile and is comprised of many small joints held together by ligaments and supporting muscles. These upper vertebrae support the weight of your head, which is a lot heavier than people appreciate.

They allow you to bend, flex and rotate your neck but are extremely sensitive and if asked to do too much of the work, a sore or stiff neck is a common outcome.

While a pain killer may relieve the pain temporarily unless the underlying cause is treated it will return.


What We Treat And What We Don’t Treat

Whether you have been involved in an accident, suffered an injury, experience episodes of neck pain at times of stress or you suffer from a stiff neck due to lifestyle factors, we can help.

How We Solve The Problem

There is plenty our experienced physiotherapists can do. We will assess you thoroughly and find out the cause of your pain, then help you to get into the optimal condition through joint mobilisation, soft tissue release, exercises, advice, acupuncture or taping.

Helping You Recover From Neck Pain

Knowing the causes WILL allow you to take steps to not only relieve pain but increase mobility, coordination, balance and strength, meaning it is less likely to affect you in the future.

Although pain may be relieved relatively quickly recovery is also a gradual process where it is essential to restore the strength followed by endurance, co- ordination and balance to return to pre-injury level.

We will equip you with strategies to adapt your day to day activities and environment to minimise the risk of neck pain returning.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

I also have headaches is this coming from my neck?

Headaches that originate from neck pain are one of the most common type of headaches.

The nerves that supply the upper neck also supply the skin over the head, forehead, jaw line and back of the eyes and ears and can therefore refer the pain to these areas too, causing a cervicogenic headache. A fancy name for a headache originating from the neck.

The pain radiates down my arm and I have pins and needles is this normal?

Neck problems frequently refer pain to the shoulder, even down to the hands. It can include numbness, pins and needles, a sense of weakness in the arm or hand.

I can’t sleep because of my neck pain what should I do?

Once neck pain has developed it often impacts the quality of our sleep. It’s difficult to get comfortable and we try changing position frequently. One of the best and fastest solutions to this problem is having a pillow that provides you with the right level of support. We recommend a pillow that you can adjust the height, firmness and apply your own preference to. This will allow a better recovery, a faster recovery and supports your physiotherapy treatment which will resolve the underlying issue or help provide you with a longer term solution if the neck pain issue is driven by arthritis or a long term condition.

Do I need to see my GP first?

Not usually, unless your own private health insurance requires it. In most cases you can self-refer. We work closely with GPs and hospital consultants (both NHS and private) and we are recognised by all of the major health insurance companies. Doctors often prescribe pain relief and rest. They do this because they have limited time to assess you fully. That’s how we can help.

Can physiotherapy help neck pain?

Yes. Neck pain is one of the most common complaints we treat.

Although neck pain may respond to medication, if the origin of the neck pain is not being treated it is likely the pain will return in time. Here at Optimal there are a number of things we can do to help. We can look at your posture and work environment, your own injury experience, history and presentation to create a treatment plan that will alleviate your pain, improve strength and mobility and prevent further recurrences in the long term. This has to be a personalised and tailored approach rather than a one-size fits all method.


I’d just like to say how much I appreciated the treatment I have received from Steven. A few months ago I was plagued with neck and shoulder pain but in a few sessions he was able to give me a complete understanding of the underlying issues and exercises that mean I am now pain free. Great work. Very professional and pleasant manner. Absolutely recommend him to anyone looking for a physio.

JAndrew Matheson

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Did you know that only 15% of adults have neck pain that lasts at least one full day. If you’re ready to book, we’re waiting to help you, all of our appointments can be easily booked online by clicking here.


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