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Neck Pain

Backgroud picture of man working at a desk
Picture of a woman recieving neck treatment

What is neck pain?

Neck pain and stiffness is common in people of all ages. 2 out of 3 people will experience neck pain at some point.


Reasons for neck pain can include:

  • Poor sitting posture

  • Static postures

  • Stress

  • Unusual activity e.g painting ceiling

Serious neck conditions are rare. Neck pain is usually as a result of stiff joints or tight muscles which do not require an investigation e.g X-ray / scan.


The good news is, making simple changes to your daily activities can have a big impact on your neck pain.

Click the links below to find out more.

  • Acute back pain
    Acute back pain can come on suddenly, or over time and can range from a mild pain or ache to quite severe pain, which can be extremely distressing and can sometimes stop you carrying out your everyday activities. It is often difficult to identify why your back is painful as the pain can come from joints, muscles or nerves being inflammed, stretched or compressed. More often than not, acute back pain comes on without any specific injury to your back. You may experience: Back pain Muscle spasm Stiffness Leg pain (sciatica) Watch the video above to find out how to help with this. For most cases of back pain, X-ray and scans are of little benefit.
  • Chronic Back Pain
    Chronic back pain refers to pain that has not gone away after three months. Like acute back pain, it is usually caused by a strain or a sprain in the back - but the pain and distress can last for much longer and it can have a big impact on your day-to-day life. Chronic back pain can range from a mild pain or ache, to a more severe pain. This can depend on a variety of things, such as how happy you are at home or at work, if you are prone to depression or if you have had back pain before. Chronic back pain usually requires treatment such as medication or physiotherapy. In most cases though, your back will heal itself. It is important that you keep active and continue as normal, but if your pain is severe and persistent then you should seek medical advice for diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.
  • Sciatica
    Sciatica is a pain that travels down from your lower back or buttock, to your foot. It usually happens when the jelly within the discs that separate the bones of your spine (vertebrae) pushes out of the disc and irritates the sciatic nerve. Swollen muscles, joints or ligaments can also irritate the nerve causing sciatica. The sciatic nerve runs down through the back, into the buttock, down the back of the leg and round to the outside of the lower leg and foot. When the nerve gets compressed or irritated, the brain interprets the pain as coming from the buttock or leg instead of the back, where the problem actually is. The pain is often a severe shooting pain, sometimes accompanied with pins and needles or numbness. You should seek urgent medical attention if you experience any of the following: - loss of control of your bladder or bowel - numbness around your saddle (genital) area - problems with the coordination of your steps when walking Sciatica can usually be helped with exercise. If the pain is too severe to exercise, speak to your GP about medication you could take for a short time to allow you to exercise. When you're ready, try to exercise class on the back pain webpage.
  • Spinal Stenosis
    Download an information pack here For more information, see the Versus Arthritis website here

When should I seek urgent help?

Usually rare, but sometimes the nerves in the neck can become compressed/trapped. You should seek medical help if:

  • Unexplained arm weakness in one or both arms or even legs.

  • Changes or difficulties with swallowing or speaking. 

  • Weakness, pins & needles or numbness into the legs or arms.

  • Finding it difficult for you to use your hands for tasks such as picking up coins, buttoning a shirt or gripping

  • Experiencing a loss of balance or co-ordination when walking.

  • Decreasing control of your bladder and bowels. Including difficulty starting the flow of urine or fully emptying the bladder

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Dizziness, vomiting or blackout associated with neck movements

Click the links to find out more.

Avoiding Neck pain

Image of correct neck posture when at a desk. The pictures shows a person sat down with the computer and chair at the correct height. The picture to Right shows a person stood up using a stnading desk with the computer at the correct height.
Image of using the phone posture in standing and sitting
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