Physiotherapy & Neck Injuries

Your neck supports the weight of your head whenever in an upright position, hence any kind of neck injury can be extremely limiting in that to stand or walk you need to have that support. Neck injuries tend to occur because of either trauma or poor posture, both of which are often assessed and/or treated by physiotherapists.

Common neck injuries

Neck injuries are typical of practitioners of impact sports like rugby and virtually any martial arts. Typical conditions include:

  • Whiplash - a common consequence of car accidents and falls, whiplash refers to a host of neck injuries caused by a sudden extension and distortion of the neck. The motion causing a whiplash injury is typically an initial stretching of a spinal ligament, called the anterior longitudinal ligament, in a quick and jerky forward motion, followed by an equivalent movement in the other direction. Typical symptoms are pain in the neck and back which can extend to the shoulders, headaches, and pins and needles in these area.
  • Slipped disc – better known amongst healthcare professionals as a spinal disc herniation, is an injury that occurs along the vertebral column, which is composed of both the neck and back. Essentially the spinal column is composed of units called vertebrae which interlink allowing your back to bend, each unit is connected by an intervertebral disc which is damaged in this condition. The outer layer of these discs is a fibrous ring which becomes damaged, resulting in the central portion bulging outwards. The resulting inflammation causes severe pain, and sometimes muscular weakness, paralysis, or numbness are experienced as well. This being said however, it is possible to suffer the condition without any symptoms at all.
  • Wryneck – or torticollis is the consequence of muscular spasms in the neck which causes a contraction of the musculature of the cervical spine’s musculature. The result is a stiff neck and a tilting of the head to one side. The condition can be congenital (as a consequence of birth trauma or abnormal positioning in the womb), acquired (a result of a range of medical conditions including infections and tumours), or spasmodic (occurring transiently).

Physiotherapy and neck injuries

Some neck injuries are unavoidable consequences of trauma, while others are caused by poor posture and over exertion of the neck in an unstable manner. A physiotherapist will offer advice on good posture and stretching habits that minimise your chances of injury. Keeping your neck limber as an athlete is key to avoiding injury.

Rehabilitating any neck injury takes time because of the sensitive nature of the area. Your neck houses part of the spinal cord, an essential component of the central nervous system which, the damage of which can result in paralysis. Neck massage is key to your physiotherapist’s recovery plan, as is resting the neck and increasing its motion very slowly and over enough time. Some hospitals can afford equipment like the Multi-Cervical Unit (MCU), which measures the range of motion of your neck and improves it accordingly. Such equipment allows for efficient assessment and recovery to reduce neck pain and restore functionality.

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