Suffering from some kind of neck pain is extremely common and, in most cases, not a surprise… that is because our neck has the very important job of bearing the weight of our heads 24/7.

Our necks contain flexible muscles that support the weight of our heads. These muscles can be injured and irritated from overuse and postural problems. Neck pain can also sometimes be attributed to worn joints or compressed nerves, but necktension typically refers to musclespasms or soft tissue injuries.

As strong as our necks are for being able to do this job for us, they are also very fragile and it does not take much to cause neck pain or injury. It can be as simple as a combination of the wrong sleeping position and posture which can cause us to have that persistent painful ache for days after.

The most common neck pain symptoms are:

  1. Muscle tightness or spasms
  2. Trouble moving your neck or head
  3. Headache radiating down towards the neck
  4. Pain that gets worse when you hold your head a certain way while working on a computer, driving, or doing other tasks

While all of these symptoms can happen at any time and are fairly common, the one that has affected us all massively through 2020 and 2021 is number 4. Now more than ever we are seeing a huge amount of people in our clinic suffering from neck pain due to new working from home routines.

Working at a desk is a common cause of neck pain, but it is made 10x worse for those who are working from home using improper desks and DIY home office work stations. Often because you accommodate to your workstation rather than the other way around. For instance, many people strain to see a computer monitor that is too far away, too low, too high, too small or too dim. This compromises good posture. The average human head weighs almost 12 pounds – the equivalent of a bowling ball! When your neck is bent to 45 degrees, your head exerts nearly 50 pounds of force on your neck. In addition to straining joints and muscles in your neck and shoulders, the pressure affects your breathing and mood.

To alleviate this stress, those now working from home should redesign your workspace to encourage well-aligned posture. There are many ways to improve the ergonomics — efficiency and comfort level — of a typical workstation.

  • Is your monitor positioned so that you can see it well without straining?
    • Raise or lower the monitor or your chair so your eyes are level with the top of the screen. If you wear bifocals, you may need to lower the monitor another 1 to 2 inches.
    • Move the monitor closer or farther away so that you can easily read the screen.
    • Increase the font size you use.
    • If using a laptop, link to a larger monitor.
  • Are your mouse and keyboard positioned so that you don’t have to reach up to use them?
    • Lower your desk height or raise your chair so that your forearms are parallel to the floor or pointed slightly downward and your wrists are not pointing either upward or downward.
  • Do you keep frequently used tools within close range to minimize reaching?
    • Keep your mouse nearby, and regularly change it from one side of your body to the other.
    • Use a headset if you talk on the phone frequently.
    • Find shortcut keys you can use while typing.
    • Use a document holder so that you don’t have to look down frequently.
  • Does your chair allow you to maintain the normal curves in your spine, such as the curve in your low back?
    • Raise or lower your chair so that you’re not sitting straight up at a 90-degree angle, but rather with a slightly reclined posture of 100 to 110 degrees.
  • When you’re seated, do your feet touch the ground?
    • Consider using a stool if you’ve elevated your chair and your feet no longer reach the ground.
    • Maintain a couple of inches between the back of your knees and the chair.
  • If your chair has armrests, do they allow your shoulders to relax?
    • Consider lowering or getting rid of the armrests so that your neck and shoulders can relax downward.

If you are experiencing still experiencing neck pain after applying these tips, then seeing a physiotherapist will enable you to recover quickly and get back to sports, work and the things you enjoy most.

How a physiotherapist can help

Assessment

We will ask you in detail about the symptoms and assess the biomechanics of how you move, your posture and the function of your muscles, joints and ligaments. 

Diagnosis

We will then diagnose the cause of the neck pain; this may include identification of a number of factors which have contributed to the pain starting.

Treatment

We will formulate a treatment plan and discuss this with you. Treatments will first be targeted at reducing pain and then rehabilitation to maximise functioning of the affected area. Treatments may include:

  • Manual Therapy
  • Rehabilitative exercise
  • Acupuncture
  • Electrotherapy

To book in with us call us on: 0207 636 8845 or email us at: alo@alo-physiotherapy.co.uk