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Four Surprising Causes of Neck Pain

If you are experiencing regular neck pain that just won’t go away, it’s possible that parts of your daily routine are contributing without you realising. Here are a few common everyday activities that might be making your neck pain worse.

1. Your sleeping position

It’s easy to underestimate the impact your sleeping position has however, spending hours in one position will undoubtedly have an effect on your body. Pillows that are too high or too flat can mean your cervical joints are sitting at the end of their range in too much flexion or extension. Similarly, sleeping on your stomach often means your thoracic spine is locked into extension and your neck is fully rotated. In simpler terms, this means your joints are under more stress than necessary. Ideal sleeping posture allows your spine to maintain it’s natural curves.

2. Your daily commute

Many of us make sure our work stations are ergonomically set up to reduce stress and strain throughout the day. Few of us take the same consideration when it comes to driving. In fact, the set up of your car can be just as important as your work-desk, particularly if you are driving more than 30 minutes everyday. The correct setup in your car can mean you use less effort to drive and turn your head less often to check traffic.

Ensuring that your steering wheel, seat and mirrors are set up correctly could make a difference to your posture and even perhaps reduce neck pain and headaches. If you find that driving is still affecting your pain after making these changes, try catching public transport or riding a bike on alternative days.

3. Your downtime

Many of us unwind by watching TV or our laptops at the end of the day. Your position during this time can be something you give little thought to however, looking up to view a screen mounted on a wall or looking down at a small screen or laptop can put pressure on the upper structures of the neck. Take a few minutes to consider what posture you’re sitting in before settling down to binge watch a series and see if you can either lower the height of your screen or raise it slightly so your neck can be in a more neutral position.

4. Your exercise routine

Any activity that requires sustained positions or repetitive neck movements can contribute to neck pain. Cyclists can be stuck in neck extension while looking ahead and breaststroke swimmers can also have excess neck extension. Freestyle swimmers with reduced thoracic or neck rotation can have difficulty achieving rotation when breathing which can cause pain and discomfort over time.

Your physiotherapist will be able to identify any daily habits or activities that might be contributing to your neck pain. Come and see us for an appointment to see how we can help.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre – serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.

Fibromyalgia – Symptoms and Treatment

What is it?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterised by widespread pain throughout the body along with fatigue, memory problems, sleep and mood disorders. Sufferers of fibromyalgia often spend years trying to find a diagnosis that fits their many symptoms and fluctuate between periods of having high energy and ‘crashes’ of fatigue and pain. In severe cases, fibromyalgia can cause significant lifestyle disruptions, including reduced activity, unemployment and depression.

The underlying mechanism that creates the symptoms of fibromyalgia has been shown to be increased pain amplification by the central nervous system and reduced activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Essentially this means that small pain signals in the body are processed as large pain signals by the central nervous system.

What causes it?

Fibromyalgia is a complicated condition that is poorly understood. This can be very frustrating for sufferers, who often find themselves being shuffled between health practitioners looking for answers and long term relief. While the pain generally feels muscular, usually little to no muscular damage or injury can be found on physical assessment. The symptoms can also mimic those of an infectious illness, or other chronic diseases. Often a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is reached after other diseases and causes have been ruled out.

The cause of fibromyalgia is as yet unknown, it was thought that the depression and reduced activity that are often associated with fibromyalgia could be causative, however it has been shown that these are symptoms of fibromyalgia rather than causes. Other significant signs of fibromyalgia are a lack of REM sleep in sufferers and a positive result of more than 11 out of 18 muscular trigger points.

What is the treatment?

Following a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, patients primary strategy is to understand and manage their symptoms. This can involve pacing activities and balancing exercise so as to reduce ‘crashes’ and unhelpful pain cycles that lead to frustration. Identifying activities, employment and a routine that don’t exacerbate symptoms can have a significant impact on quality of life for someone with fibromyalgia. Having psychological support can also be very important to help patients deal with the emotional distress of a complex chronic condition that has no outward physical signs.

Treatments that have been shown to help reduce symptoms are TENS (electrical stimulation) which produces an endorphin response and can reduce pain. Certain medications may be helpful when prescribed by a doctor.

Education and understanding of this condition can have the largest impact for sufferers, helping them to manage and maintain some control over their symptoms. Physiotherapists can have a large role in education and helping patients find a routine and activity level that helps them manage their condition as best as possible.

The information in this article is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Please get in touch with our Practice for advice on your individual injury.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre – serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.

Dysfunctional Movement Patterns

Dysfunctional movement patterns occur as a result of impairments or injury to part of the kinetic chain within the human body. The kinetic chain is composed of muscles, nerves and joints and only one has to be affected to lead to dysfunction and altered movement patterns. Consequently, this could limit flexibility, mobility, stability and power or strength at one or multiple areas of the body.

After an injury, your body compensates with altered movement patterns and in turn, results in stress and strain on other structures and joints within the body. Due to this cumulative compensatory movement patterns, you may be less effective with your throwing, hitting, running, swimming or any other actions required within your sport.

Therefore; it is important to ensure normal movement patterns are relearned by reducing compensatory movement, improving the efficiency of your movement patterns. Overall, aiming to reduce the potential for further injury during sports.

A physiotherapist can complete a functional movement assessment to identify any inefficient or compensatory movement patterns. Initially the kinetic chain (joints, nerves and muscles) and functional movements will be assessed before prescribing a suitable exercise programme. This will aim to develop efficient movement patterns, decrease kinetic chain dysfunctions and aim to prevent re-injury with relearning normal movement patterns.

If you’ve previously had an injury and now returning to sport, contact your physiotherapist at Caboolture Physical Therapy to get your assessment to help prevent re-injury or any further new injuries occurring.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre – serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.

Shoulder Labral Tears (SLAP Tears)

What are Shoulder Labral Tears?

A ring of flexible, fibrous connective tissue, known as the glenohumeral labrum, surrounds the shoulder joint. This labrum increases the stability of the shoulder while allowing for the required flexibility of one of the bodies’ most sophisticated joints. One well-known muscle of the arm, the biceps, has an attachment directly into the labrum and is a common site of injury. A tear of the labrum can occur in many locations, however the most common is at the point where the biceps tendon attaches to the labrum. Usually, this tear follows a typical pattern and is referred to as a superior labrum tear, anterior to posterior (SLAP tear).

What causes Shoulder Labral Tears?

SLAP tears can be caused by trauma such as a fall onto an outstretched hand or a dislocated shoulder. Tears can also develop over time with repeated throwing actions or overhead activities as the labrum is weakened and eventually injured. Traumatic tears are more likely to be symptomatic than tears that develop slowly.

What are the symptoms?

As mentioned, SLAP tears can occur suddenly, through trauma or develop slowly through repeated stress. Often if the injury develops over time, patients can be unaware they have sustained a tear and the injury doesn’t have a significant impact on their pain or function. Preexisting SLAP tears can however, place more tension on the long head of biceps tendon, leading to overuse disorders as a secondary complication.

When the tear occurs through a sudden action or trauma, symptoms can be more marked. Sufferers often notice pain deep in the shoulder joint with overhead shoulder movements, a feeling of weakness, loss of power and/or accuracy with throwing activities. Some people may notice a popping or clicking sensation and occasionally the shoulder may give way. In severe tears, the shoulder might feel unstable and even be at increased risk of dislocation.

How can physiotherapy help?

Your physiotherapist is able to help diagnose a suspected SLAP tear and send you for further imaging if needed. SLAP tears are often graded by severity from I to IV as a way to guide treatment. Physiotherapy is usually recommended as a trial for all tears before considering surgical repair and in many cases can effectively help patients return to their previous activities, symptom-free. 

If physiotherapy is unsuccessful, surgical repair with a full rehabilitation program is recommended. Surgery will usually either repair the tear or reattach the biceps tendon to the humerus (tenodesis). Following surgery, a period of rest in a sling is required before rehabilitation can begin.

The information in this newsletter is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Please see one of our physios for advice on your individual injury.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre – serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.
Surprising Facts About Posture

Some Surprising Facts About Posture

Your posture is one of the first things other people notice about you and can affect so much more in your life than just spinal health. Healthy posture has been linked to better respiratory health and has even been shown to affect your confidence. In this article, we explore a few other surprising facts about posture.

Ideal posture doesn’t mean having a straight back.

Many people think having good posture means standing as straight as possible with your shoulders pulled back. This is actually a relatively unnatural posture and requires a lot of energy to maintain. Ideal posture, where the spine rests in its most comfortable and strongest position, is where the neck has a gentle curve backwards, the thoracic is curved gently forwards and the lower back curves back again. These curves create an elongated ‘S’ shape and can be seen when viewing a person from side-on.

There are four common postural patterns other than ‘ideal posture’.

For those who don’t have ideal posture, four common variations are seen, these are; kyphosis (excessive curve of the thoracic region), lordosis (excessive curve of the lower back), flat back (loss of the normal spinal curves) and sway back (where the pelvis is pushed in front of your centre of gravity and the upper body leans back to compensate).

Each of these postures is often accompanied by a typical pattern of joint and muscle stiffness that can lead to pain and injury. Your physiotherapist is able to assess your posture and identify any ways this may be contributing to your pain. They can also help you to change your posture with strategies to increase spinal mobility and strength.

Regular movement is just as important as your posture.

While ideal posture has been shown to reduce the amount of stress and tension found in the spinal muscles, holding yourself rigidly in one position is also not healthy. Ideally, our spines will be flexible and able to move through their full range without pain or stiffness. Regular movement is the key to healthy joints, including the spine. If you finding yourself sitting or standing for long periods, try to find time to stretch as well as working on your posture.

Personality type has been linked to postural patterns.

A study by S. Guimond and others in 2014 showed a surprising link between personality type and posture. They found that extraverted personalities were much more likely have an ‘ideal posture’ or excessive spinal curves than Introverted personalities and introverted personalities were more likely to have ‘flat’ or ‘sway back’ postures. They were unable to determine if personality influenced posture, vice versa or there was a hidden third factor such as pain.

Caboolture Physical Therapy Centre – serving people in need from the following areas: Caboolture, Morayfield, Elimbah, Wamuran, Beerburrum, Beerwah, Glasshouse Mountains, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Ningi, Woodford, Kilcoy, Bribie Island, Goodwin Beach, Sandstone Point, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Bellar, Woorim, Burpengary & Beachmere.