Neck pain is a common musculoskeletal complaint and can occur due to injuries to joints, ligaments and muscles in the neck. Common neck conditions treated by physiotherapists include whiplash, headaches and posture related neck pain. Nerve roots can also be involved in neck pain, as they exit through the neck joints and pass into the armit to supply sensation and muscle power to the upper limb. When nerve roots are compressed this is termed a radiculopathy. A thorough examination by a physio can elucidate whether nerves are affected or not.

Why physiotherapy is important?

Physiotherapy is shown to be effective in the treatment of whiplash, cervicogenic headaches, cervical radiculopathy and simple neck pain/strains. Treatments provided may include education, exercise prescription, joint manipulation/massage, taping and specific nerve exercises. We can also provide ergonomics advice and desk-setup. Please see our range of work-place Corporate Wellness services here.

Evidence-based timeframes & expectations for improvements

Research supports the use of physiotherapy for strengthening regimes of the neck muscles in patients with chronic neck pain. In this study of 100 females with chronic neck pain, 12 weeks of strength training using 3 different methods all led to improvements in pain and function compared to a control group with on intervention. Further studies have demonstrated improved neck pain, disability and mobility in patients receiving 5 sessions of manual therapy to the thoracic spine compared to a control group receiving electrotherapy. This would support the use of manual therapy for cervical neck pain on an individual basis for up to 5-6 sessions.

For neck pain with nerve root involvement the evidence supports up to 3 sessions of physiotherapy weekly for 3 weeks comprising manual therapy and therapeutic exercise to improve neck pain, disability and range of movement. A further study supports the use of manual therapy and nerve gliding exercises for 8 weeks in patients with neck and arm pain, in relation to lowering pain levels and improving disability scores.

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