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Neck Pain

The neck is the most mobile part of the human spine. The advantages have a drawback of making it vulnerable to injury or chronic problems. In addition, the relatively heavy head must be balanced on this cervical column. This becomes especially relevant with small children, with a relatively large head and undeveloped muscle strength.

Causes of neck pain

woman with neck and shoulder painNeck pain is becoming increasingly more prevalent in this computerized age. Common causes of neck pain are (but not limited to), trauma, poor posture, degenerative change of part of the neck and emotional stress. Genetic predisposition is now recognized as a large factor in neck problems. By far the most common cause of neck problems is a pre-existing mechanical problem of one or more of the joints in the neck.

How can neck pain develop without me knowing about it?

We don’t feel pain until the late stages of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer or most adult diseases. Spinal problems are often painless for years, until triggers cause episodes of neck discomfort, tension or acute pain. These triggers can be as simple as emotional stress, or turning your neck in a way that you have done millions of times before without incident. As the underlying problem progresses, these episodes of discomfort often become more frequent and become a chronic pain entity. People will often wake up with an episode of acute neck pain, causing painful movements of the neck. (Often termed Wry neck or acute Torticollis)

Mixed messages?

There has frequently been a superficial debate amongst healthcare professionals treating uncomplicated spinal pain, regarding the distinction between spinal pain being muscular in origin or a joint problem.

In actual fact, it is almost impossible to have one without the other. A wise approach to treatment, is an approach which considers both the acute exacerbation (causing the current symptoms) and a more long-term approach to address the underlying mechanical problem, which was predisposing the patient to episodes of spinal pain.

Acute neck pain. What is actually happening?

Almost all acute exacerbation of a specific area of the spine involve the following factors:

  • Joint irritation
  • Inflammation
  • Nerve irritation, which causes muscle spasm.

To understand this, it is important to know that, muscles require instructions by nerves to contract.

Many times the muscle spasm causes more joint irritation, more inflammation, more nerve irritation and consequently, more muscle spasm. Treatment should be directed toward breaking this cycle and prevent progression to a chronic pain syndrome.

Anti-inflammatory medication, although it has side effects, can be effective in addressing part of the cycle. Chiropractic treatment, physiotherapy and massage therapy can also help with its acute phase. It is also interesting to note that the pain, inflammation and nerve irritation cycle limits our activities, to prevent further injury.

Education to obtain the best results

Treatment should also involve education allowing the patient to become actively involved in rehabilitation and prevention of further aggravation. This is a mandatory part of care for any patient attending South Perth Chiropractic Centre.


man with whiplashA sudden force creating rapid neck flexion or extension can create whiplash as is commonly seen in motor vehicle accidents. Depending on the trauma, this can damage soft tissues resulting in scar tissue which requires proper rehabilitation.


There are a number of different types of headache although cervicogenic headache is very common. Pain will often be at the base of the skull but commonly refers to the front of the head and/or behind the eyes. Neck problems can also create a headache on the top of the head and exacerbate tension headache, which often follows a ‘hat band’ distribution or is located in the temples.