Neck and back pain are quite common in the general population. It can result from age related changes in the spine, structural deformities, poor posture, overuse and from problems with the discs that can compress and irritate the nerves that exit the spine at each vertebral level. Whiplash injuries can happen for example after a road traffic accident or a sporting injury. Headaches can be caused by poor posture, tight muscles, and stiff joints.
In the acute stage rest, pain relief and a gradual return to normal activities maybe all that is required. Sometimes however the pain can last for long periods of time and may not get better as quickly as you want. When this happens physiotherapy can help. A thorough assessment is needed, and this will guide your physiotherapist as to which treatment modality will be the most beneficial to you. Massage will help reduce tight muscles and spinal mobilisations will help free up stiff joints. Exercises are especially important at most stages of rehabilitation, but they need to be carried out in a controlled and pain free manner in the early stages. Depending on the nature and cause of your problem there maybe signs and symptoms of inflammation. Physiotherapists often use acupuncture and electrotherapy to help reduce the inflammation and your physiotherapist will discuss the use of these modalities at your initial assessment. If you present with symptoms such as sciatica (vague term for pain down the back of the leg) with pins and needles and numbness and weakness in the leg(s) it could indicate that there is pressure on one of the nerves that exit your spine. These symptoms are often caused by a disc prolapse or a disc bulge. In the old days this was called a slipped disc, but discs do not slip. You can also have disc problems in your neck, and this can cause symptoms which go towards your shoulder, down your arm and into your hand. Your physiotherapist will be able to discuss which is the best form of treatment for this type of problem at your initial assessment.