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Neck Pain Physiotherapy

Neck pain is on the increase. It is easy to see why. In our day-to-day lives we are becoming increasingly sedentary. Phones and laptops are part of our daily routine. We spend more time sitting and less time moving. For many, the commute to work by car, bus or rail involves lengthy periods when we don’t do much moving at all.

Neck pain is a musculoskeletal problem which can take many forms. Pain can be confined to the neck but it can also travel into the shoulder and arms. It may be accompanied by headaches, referred to as cervicogenic headaches. It may also can also be accompanied by a reduction in the range of movement of the head.

The first step for the physiotherapist should be to conduct a careful assessment to verify that your condition is treatable by physiotherapy. This is extremely important. The physio should not treat you if your neck pain symptoms indicate a possibility of a more serious problem. These include:

  • Bowel or bladder issues
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Giving way of the leg

One explanation for more serious symptoms is that you may have suffered a traumatic event. This can include a car accident or a serious tackle during a football/rugby match that might have directly impacted your neck. In such instances we will first advise you to see your GP before proceeding with any physiotherapy.

However, when these other factors have been ruled out, physiotherapy for neck pain can be applied very successfully.

Neck Pain Physiotherapy

Common neck conditions

There are a number of common neck conditions. These range from spondylosis, to torticollis (wry neck syndrome) and whip lash associated pain.


Spondylosis refers to wear and tear in the joint of the neck, a form of arthritis. This is an aging phenomenon, however not everyone experiences painful symptoms. But where there are changes to the bone that affect nearby nerves, or stiffness occurring from bone-on-bone contact, these changes can cause pain and in some cases numbness and pins and needles.


Whiplash pain can present similar symptoms to spondylosis. Whiplash refers to injury caused by a quick acceleration/deceleration which creates an aggressive movement of the head sideways or forwards/backwards. This in turn subjects the neck to a sudden, high load.
Whiplash is commonly associated with car accidents, however you can also suffer this type of injury on a rugby pitch, or from something as innocuous as a push from someone behind you.

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How can Neck Pain physiotherapy help?

Your physio will assess the cause of your neck pain, discuss in detail how you what led to your symptoms and help to devise a plan on how to be maintain your levels of mobility in your neck.

Your physio will start the process of assessment by providing you with a detailed examination of your neck. Using exercise therapy and manual techniques, the physio will help you regain mobility, advise on you how to achieve optimal postural alignment and draw up an exercise program specific to you to help strengthen the muscles of the neck. In addition to exercises you will also be provided with a series of stretches that are relevant to your neck problem.

Where appropriate your physiotherapist will also refer you to a medical specialist if there appears to be underlying symptoms that are not suitable for treatment using physiotherapy techniques.

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How can I help best look after my neck?

Take regular breaks from your phone, laptop, desktop throughout the day and move away from your desk. This will help to improve circulation and prevent you from being in a fixed position all day.

Gently stretch the muscles of your neck side-to-side, roll your shoulders up and down. Try doing this little and often throughout the day especially if you are working in a fast-paced environment.

If applicable, request a work place assessment to ensure you are able to sit in an optimal position at your desk to avoid flaring up painful symptoms.

If you continue to struggle, keep in mind that early diagnosis and intervention is essential for optimal recovery, so contact a good physiotherapist if you need advice and support.

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If you choose Full Motion Physio

My approach is described in the Full Motion Method page. Extensive research has identified four essential elements for the best physiotherapy. The Full Motion Method covers each of these elements.

I will tailor your treatment specifically to your body and your condition. We will review and refine the treatment throughout your recovery. Your input at each stage is an essential part of the process. My aim is to be a partner in your recovery.
The end result is more than simply fixing your current symptoms. I will help you understand your condition and how specific exercises aid recovery. And I will guide you on injury prevention.

One last point: Early diagnosis and intervention minimises the risk of the injury getting worse. 

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