The neck is made up of seven bones (vertebrae) and is the most mobile part of the spine. It is surrounded by muscles, which often play a role in both neck stability and arm (upper limb) movement. Injuries of the neck can happen slowly overtime, due to repetitive overloading activities, without having adequate neck and arm strength. This is known as mechanical neck pain, which is either a muscular strain (pulled muscle) or joint stiffness. These sort of injuries are often minor and can be managed using the principles of POLICE under the guidance of a physiotherapist. The neck can also suffer sudden trauma, such as sustaining a whiplash injury from a road traffic accident or fall. Occasionally these injuries can be severe and need medical management. We advise that you seek a medical opinion if you have sustained any sort of traumatic injury or if you have referred pain or pins and needles into your arms, or any headaches or dizziness (see the red flags section). The best available evidence shows that the best non-traumatic injury prevention and management strategies strengthen your ‘above head’ upper limb movements and maintain your active range of neck motion and strength under the guidance of a physiotherapist. Posture is thought to play less of a role in neck injury management than the strength and conditioning of your neck and upper limbs. The key to management is regular activity/ exercise and regular changes of position​

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Neck Injuries Table

This table shows some of the key symptoms of the most common neck injuries. We strongly advise that you see a healthcare professional rather than attempt to self-diagnose.

The information pages about each condition should help to explain the injury you have and signpost how it can be appropriately managed. Remember that wear and tear (degeneration) in your neck is a normal part of ageing. Often people with large amounts of wear and tear on scans have no symptoms and are fully functioning. Neck pain often causes tight sore muscles and stiff aching joints. This is due to the pain of the injury (making the muscles tight and therefore weak) and the inflammation in the joints causing stiffness. Avoiding moving your neck will not help; it will just make your neck stiffer, muscles tighter and pain worse. Pain-free clicking is nothing to worry about as it is either tight tendons and ligaments flicking over the joints, or the release of nitrogen gas bubbles from your joints (cavitation). If there are high levels of pain with the clicking then seek a medical assessment.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor or physiotherapist. Physioproductskenya disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalised medical advice.

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