It is estimated that over a lifetime 70% of people will experience neck pain and at any point in time 20% of the population will be suffering from neck pain. It is also found that 50-85% of people who have experienced neck pain, will have a re occurrence within 5 years.

Recently a neck pain guideline has been published and categorises neck pain into trauma or work related.

Now, if you have experienced acute neck pain you would know that this can significantly impact you in your day to day activities. Similar to low back pain it is important to identify what neck pain is from serious structural causes and what is non-specific. These recent guidelines divide neck pain into 4 categories which are:

  • Non-specific acute neck pain (NSANP) with minimal influence on function
  • Non-specific acute neck pain (NSANP) with strong influence on function
  • Neck pain without serious pathology but with neurological symptoms (headaches/altered sensation/strength/coordination)
  • Neck pain with signs of possible serious structural pathology

A normal course of non-specific neck pain will resolve in 4-6 weeks with treatment, and you should return to full function. If after 6-weeks there has been no change in pain and function or if things have become worse this is deemed abnormal and further investigation is required. Now, let me just clarify. This classification of “abnormal” is if pain is unchanged or worse after 6 weeks of treatment! You should not let your neck pain go for more than 1 week if there is no change or getting worse. This will only delay return to function and often results in secondary headaches or nervous system changes.

Generally, there are 2 causes of ANSNP.

Postural/positional related
Trauma related – due to an uncontrolled/unexpected movement most commonly whiplash injury.
Postural or positional related NSANP is generally work related and as a result of prolong sitting with poor posture. Similar to low back pain, prolonged postures result in muscle tightness and/or spasm, joint stiffness, reduced neck movement and NECK PAIN!

Trauma related NSANP often results in higher initial pain and limited function due to the nature of the injury. This injury commonly presents as category 2 or above. The most common cause of these injuries we see are due to motor vehicle accidents resulting in “whiplash”.

Fundamentals of Neck Pain:

  • 70% of the population will experience neck pain, 20% are now and up to 85% will experience a repeat pain episode within 5 years
  • A major cause of neck pain is postural related – which you have control over.
  • Normal course of neck pain will see a full return to function in 6 weeks or less
  • Letting your neck pain go without treatment results in secondary issues and can increase from a category 1 to category 3- seek advice from an expert

To ensure early intervention and prevention worsening neck pain symptoms see our experienced Physiotherapists for a comprehensive assessment of your symptoms. You can book online from this website.

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