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Injuries Explained: Neck

Simon Carbone

Neck pain is one of the most common areas of injury seen in a physiotherapy clinic. This region is commonly known as the cervical spine and contains the first seven vertebrae down the spine. Pain is usually caused by local structures within or around the head or neck and is sometimes referred from the shoulder, upper back or jaw, and headaches commonly occur as a result of neck pain.

Common activities, which cause neck injuries, are contact sports, lifting, bending forward or sideways, rotation of the neck, and motor vehicle accidents These injuries usually involve damage to soft tissue around the joints of the neck and often have associated muscle spasm, and there are two causes of neck pain that are most common.

Disc injuries

Discs are located between each vertebrae in the neck and are jelly like structures which act as shock absorbers. Disc injuries commonly present with diffuse neck pain, muscle spasm, restricted range of motion, and sometimes nerve related pain (pins and needles, numbness, sharp pain) down the arm.

Facet joint sprains

Facet joints are the connecting joints in between the vertebrae of the neck. Facet joint injuries commonly present with symptoms felt on one side of the neck and muscle spasm may be experienced around the affected joint. Occasionally pain may be referred into the shoulder, shoulder blade, upper back or arm on the affected side.

Neck pain can also be caused by abnormal loading of the neck, often from poor prolonged sitting posture and repetitive or sustained bending and it is common for the structures of the neck to become degenerative with age.

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