Mechanical neck pain is often the most common cause of neck pain we see in the clinic, but neck pain can also manifest in headaches and be caused by some vestibular disorders. The cervical spine is the main anatomical structure that is associated with neck pain and is made up of cervical discs, a complex layering of muscles and facets joints, like the lumbar spine.
Localised neck pain is often experienced suddenly with overhead actions or waking up in a usual neck position. Despite this experience we know the biggest risk factors for someone developing neck pain are poor quality and quantity of sleep, stress, and anxiety. This is likely due to the uptick in our nervous system where we experience an increase in breathing rate and change in breathing pattern. This is known as apical breathing; at rest we typically have a basal breathing pattern.
Identifying the main individual causes will significantly affect the management of your rehabilitation. Despite this you should be focused regaining full pain free range of motion I the early stages of your rehabilitation. The cervical spine can bend in flex, extend, rotate, and bend to the side.
Once you have achieved full pain free range of motion and no longer experiencing pain, you should aim to restore the strength in your deep cervical flexors and extensors. This is important as it can significantly reduce your risk of re-injury as these muscles often become weaker after a neck injury.
To assess your cervical flexors and extensor strength, common tests we use are the cervical flexor and extensor endurance test. These test the strength and endurance of your neck muscles. A good number to aim for is 45 seconds for your flexors and 120 seconds for your extensors.
We have experienced senior clinicians with one of the best equipped facilities on Auckland’s North Shore. Our patients have access to a full gym and Pilates studio to allow us to develop an exercise program specific to your needs. Independent gym exercise is an important part of most ACL rehabilitation. At Link Health and Fitness a physiotherapist is always available during staffed hours to offer you additional support.