In the age of technology the human race has managed to develop and evolve in so many impressive ways, however the one thing we have not managed to master is the ability to fully adapt our posture and ergonomics with in the workplace. Neck pain seems to be the new normal in the workplace. With the increased time spent working on computers and our cellphones , it’s no wonder that around 50% of the population states that they have had some type of neck pain within the last 6 months.
So what is neck pain?
Simply, it is pain within the neck region that has been present for more than a day and that may occur with or without referral into one or both of your arms. It is also important to state that neck pain can also refer into your head and cause headaches.
Neck pain has many different causes and can affect any age group. As you get older the likelihood of having neck pain does increase; this may be due to levels of stress, poor posture that you have learnt over the years, working environment and general degeneration of the anatomy within the neck.
What are the most common neck injuries then?
Disc Bulging or Herniation
This is something that happens frequently at the C5 – C6 disc due to multiple reasons such as trauma, age, repetitive movements, poor posture and many other reasons. Any form of disc bulging in the neck will lead to severe pain and will likely lead to referral into the arms as the discs tend to bulge into the nerve roots. The nerve pain will be felt as burning, tingling, pins and needles or numbness.
Muscle Strains and Trigger Points
A muscle strain is where you tear the musculature of your neck. Trigger points in the neck can feel like a very serious injury as often they are sitting on a nerve and causing severe pain. Trigger points are hypersensitive points within the muscular band, typically felt by a palpable nodule. These conditions can be caused by trauma, poor posture (especially now due to technology), poor sleeping positions, rapid movements, carrying objects that are too heavy, and stress.
This is a condition where there is the breakdown of cartilage and the underlying bone that make up your joints; in this case between the vertebra of the neck. This condition worsens with age and has been linked to one’s genetics. This condition often starts due to poor posture and people having a hinge at one point in the neck. A hinge is where one does most of the bending of the neck between just two vertebra instead of spreading the bending through the various joints of the neck.
There is good news though: there is a lot your Physiotherapist can do to help you with neck pain.
Posture correction (the most important improvement), myofascial release, trigger point therapy, joint mobilizations and manipulations, dry needling, strapping, stretching, exercises programs, specific soft tissue mobilization and then also it is important to let your physiotherapist walk you through changing your work environment to help your ergonomics.