WHAT IS IT? CERVICAL DISC INJURY
Disc irritation, protrusion or herniation can cause neck pain. The disc is a structure which sits between the vertebrae of the spine. The discs act as shock absorbers, and allow the neck to move.
Consult your Doctor
Immediate assessment must be sought if you have any of the following symptoms:
Bilateral pins and needles in arms and legs
Disturbance to normal bladder, bowel, or sexual function
Problems walking normally
Associated unexplained weight loss
Severe night pain unrelated to movement
Signs & Symptoms
Centrally located pain (but can also be on one side or both)
Aggravated with movement, especially prolonged flexion (reading)
Possible pins and needles
Possible referral of pain to the shoulder blade or down the arm
Altered power and reflexes of upper limbs
Neural irritation (e.g. increase in symptoms in driving, or chin to chest position)
Aggravated by coughing or sneezing
What Causes It?
Prolonged sitting/driving due to sedentary job and lifestyle
Trigger points within surrounding muscles (upper traps, scalene, sternocleidomastoid muscles)
Increased neural tension
Poor activation and weakness of deep neck core stabilising muscles
How to Self Manage
Reduce pain and inflammation with medication provided by your doctor or recommended by your pharmacist
Use ice to reduce pain and inflammation if the injury has occurred in the last 2 days. Otherwise if it is chronic heat can be used to reduce pain and relax muscle spasm
Avoid aggravating activities (prolonged sitting, reading, computer use)
Rest in a position of comfort.
Returning to normal activities (within pain limits) is advised as soon as possible to prevent long term habits of avoiding normal activities due to fear of pain and injury.
X-ray is warranted if there has been trauma such as a severe whiplash, and fracture is suspected.
MRI and CT are the most useful investigations for suspected disc involvement.
How Physio Helps
Neck pain is often a scary to experience. Therefore, your physiotherapist will thoroughly question you to determine the specific source of your neck pain, and identify various contributing factors which led to its onset
If the pain is not being managed, they may refer you to your GP for pain relief medication. Investigation may or may not be required.
Treatment can include:
Massage and trigger point release
Prescription of exercises for range of movement, strengthening and stability
Acupuncture and/or dry needling
Cervical longitudinal traction
Assessment of posture and advice on improvement or correction
Review and modification of exercise or lifestyle activities
Ergonomic/workstation set-up assessment and review