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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.

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.
Pain not improving_Caboolture_Brisbane_Physio

Four surprising reasons your pain isn’t improving

Most tissues in the body have healed completely in six to 12 weeks following an injury, however, many people have severe pain that lasts much longer than this. We know that the intensity of the pain you feel is not always associated with a similar amount of damage. In some cases, there can be a severe amount of pain with almost no detectable damage. With this in mind, we explore some reasons why your pain might not be getting better, long after the tissues have healed.

You’re afraid of the pain.

Pain can mean many different things, for some of us pain can affect our ability to work or can be a symptom of a serious disease. What you believe about your pain can either amplify or reduce the symptoms you experience. If you feel that every time you experience pain you are causing more damage, you will naturally pay more attention to this and your nervous system will amplify the signals in an attempt to keep you safe.

If you understand the cause of your pain and know that while there is discomfort, you are not in danger of causing more damage, often the pain will feel less severe. This is one of the benefits of seeing a physiotherapist after your injury as they can help you to understand your pain, giving you more control over your recovery.

You started moving differently after the injury. 

Immediately after an injury, it’s natural to change the way you move to avoid painful movements. After a while, these changed movement patterns can become maladaptive and actually begin to cause pain and discomfort on their own due to the altered stress patterns placed on your body.

Correcting these adaptive movement patterns can often go a long way in reducing pain after an injury. You might not have noticed these changes and might need a physiotherapist to identify and help you to return to your usual movement pattern.

You have lost muscle strength since the injury.

While a certain amount of rest following an injury is always helpful, if we stop moving altogether, our muscles can lose strength. This can mean that our posture changes, we fatigue easier during our usual activities and that we are more susceptible to further injury. Less movement also means we actually focus on the pain more when it does happen. Physiotherapists are able to advise you on the right types and amounts of exercise for you in the period following your injury.

The pain has affected your lifestyle.

When pain affects your ability to sleep, work and even concentrate, it’s not surprising that this can have a negative affect on your overall wellbeing and mental health. This can create a negative cycle of anxiety and depression that perpetuates and increases the experience of pain. If your pain is really getting you down, speaking to a mental health professional can actually be a valuable part of your physical recovery.

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.

Five reasons to see a Physiotherapist after an injury

There is no doubt that the human body can be very resilient. Short of regenerating new limbs, our bodies are capable of recovering from large amounts of damage, including broken bones.

With this in mind, many people are happy to let nature take its course following an injury, thinking that seeing a physiotherapist will only act to speed up already healing tissues.

The speed of recovery, however, is only one measure of healing and despite our bodies’ incredible capacity for repair; injury repair can be less than straightforward. Here are a few things about injury healing you may not have been aware of.

  1. Scar Tissue is more likely to form without treatment.

Scar tissue can cause ongoing pain and stiffness in skin, muscles and ligaments. Physiotherapy can prevent excessive scarring from forming through advice regarding movement, massage and other hands-on treatment.

  1. Your ability to sense the position of your body, known as proprioception, is often damaged after an injury and can be retrained.

Impaired proprioception is a major factor in re-injury. If you’ve ever heard someone say “my knee/ankle/shoulder still doesn’t feel 100%” then this could be why. The good news is that with a specific exercise program, proprioception can be improved and recovered.

  1. Once healing has finished, your body may not be exactly the same as before.

Following an injury, ligaments may be lax, joints may be stiffer and muscles are almost always weaker. While the pain may be gone, there might still be factors that need to be addressed to prevent more complicated issues in the future.

  1. You may have picked up some bad habits while waiting for the injury to heal.

While in pain, we often change the way we do things, this can lead to the development of poor movement patterns and muscle imbalances. Even though the pain has gone, these new patterns can remain and create further problems down the road.

  1. Injuries don’t always heal completely.

On rare occasions, injuries may not be able to heal completely on their own. The most serious example of this is a fracture that cannot heal if the bone is not kept still enough. Other factors that may prevent an injury from healing include poor circulation, diabetes, insufficient care of the injury and poor nutrition.

Your physiotherapist can assess your injury and develop a treatment plan that will both restore you to the best possible function and prevent further injuries. The information in this article is not a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional 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.

Where is your pain really coming from?

Have you ever been to see a physiotherapist for pain in one part of your body and, when they treated you, they focused on a completely different area?

While this can be a strange experience, it can be even more puzzling when the treatment actually works.

So what is going on? Shouldn’t pain be treated where it is being felt?

When pain is felt at a different location from where the pain is being caused, this is called ‘referred pain’ and is actually more common than you think. Exactly why this happens is a little complicated, and in fact, we don’t yet understand everything about the way that pain is processed.

Pain is usually felt when something causes damage to the body, sending an electrical impulse to the brain. The brain receives this information and process it to make sense of which part of the body the signal is coming from and what kind of pain it is.

When the brain thinks that the pain is coming from a different area than where the damage or signal is actually coming from, this creates the phenomenon of referred pain.

Referred Pain

Sometimes referred pain is easy to explain, such as when a nerve becomes injured or irritated, causing the pain to be felt along the length of the nerve. This often feels like a sharp, burning pain that runs in a strip, along the skin. Other examples of referred pain are more difficult to explain and in some cases seem to defy explanation. Perhaps you have heard about the strange phenomenon of phantom pain where amputees continue to feel pain as though it was in the place where their limbs used to be.

Muscular trigger points can also cause referred pain. The mechanism behind this is a bit trickier to understand, but is thought to be explained by tight bands of muscle tissues that cause pain to be felt in predictable patterns around the body.

Other tissues of the body can cause pain to be felt in a different location

This includes discs of the spine and internal organs. Many times the internal organs can refer pain in peculiar patterns and this can actually lead to serious illnesses being mistaken for muscular aches and pains.

Kidney pain can be felt in the lower back and tragically, some people fail to recognize that they are having a heart attack because they feel pain in their neck and arm, not in their chest.

We also know that not understanding or being afraid of pain can make pain feel stronger. In rare cases, people who have pain in one hand can feel pain just by seeing their other hand moving in a mirror.

There are many other fascinating aspects to pain, and understanding how it works is an important part of managing your symptoms.

To understand how referred pain may be affecting you, chat with one of our physiotherapists who can help answer your questions.

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.