Neck Pain and Complaints

by Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson

What is Neck Pain?

The neck is made up of 7 bones called vertebrae and the role of region is to support the weight of the head (roughly 5 kilograms!). The neck region must also have the ability to move the head and eyes so many muscles cross over the region. As a result of so many structures and functions in this region, neck pain is a very common complaint. Stress, long periods of sitting, injury, poor posture and poor sleeping position are some common factors which contribute to neck pain, and without intervention, acute neck pain can progress to chronic pain.

Common causes of neck pain:


Common structures which contribute to neck pain:

  • Bones
  • Muscles
  • Joints
  • Ligaments/Tendons
  • Nerves
  • Discs 

What you can do to help yourself if you are suffering from Neck Pain:

In the instance of an acute injury, apply ice for the first 24-48 hours’ post-injury. This is to minimise swelling and inflammation in the region. We recommend application for 20 minutes of every hour, avoiding direct skin contact with the ice (place a towel between). After this initial period heat can be applied in the form of a heat pack to encourages blood flow to the region, promoting repair and relaxation of muscles.

Poor desk posture can cause repetitive strain on the neck which can slow recovery or cause future injury. If you have poor desk posture, ask for a workplace ergonomic assessment if necessary. Similarly, incorrect sleeping position can be an ongoing factor in neck pain. Consider if your sleeping position strains your neck, how old is your pillow is and if your pillow the correct height for you. Your health professional can provide further advice if needed.

For more information on how poor desk posture could be affecting your pain, watch the following video by Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson, or click here.

Performing gentle neck range of motion exercises within pain limits is encouraged. This aims to prevent loss of neck range of motion and decrease stiffness. It is also important to avoid activities which aggravate pain such as heavy lifting or sudden head movements where possible.

Braces are generally not recommended for neck pain, unless prescribed by a health professional.


When to seek professional help for your Neck Pain:

  • If your pain is severe, especially after acute trauma or injury
  • If your pain begins to get worse or is not improving
  • If you are experiencing nerve pain, pins, needles, tingling or weakness in arms/hands
  • If you have a fever and/or severe stiffness


What a health practitioner will do to help with your Neck Pain:

Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson treating neck painWhen seeing a health professional such as an osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor for your neck pain, they will take an in depth history of the complaint, assess the neck and surrounding areas for range of motion, restrictions and muscle tension, and also provide provocative testing to establish which structure is causing your pain.

Your health professional will use a range of techniques to decrease your muscle tension, decompress the area and increase spinal range of motion.

At the end of your appointment, your health professional will reassess the region for any improvements or changes. They may also take the time to give you some stretches and exercises to continue your progress until your next appointment.

For more information on some basic neck stretches which you can do from your own desk, watch the following video by Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson, or click here.

For more information on conditions of the neck, click on the following conditions:

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