Postural Neck Pain

What is it?

Postural neck pain is as it sounds.  Poor posture and incorrect work ergonomic set-up can result in neck pain.

Common signs and symptoms

  • Neck ache which may extend to the shoulders and shoulder blades

  • Stiffness of neck movements

  • Headaches

  • Pain has gradual onset, worsening throughout day

  • Aggravated by sitting, prolonged postures, repetitive work duties

  • Eased with heat, movement, and pain medication

 

What causes it?

  • Weak deep neck flexor, lower trapezius and other relevant muscles

  • Increased lordosis of neck (chin poking out position)

  • Forward head posture

  • Rounded shoulders

  • Unsupportive seating

  • Incorrect work station set up (computer, chair, table etc.)

  • Activities involving sustained postures

  • Repetitive activities

  • Increased neural tension

  • Tight muscles

  • Hypomobile vertebrae and joints

 

How can I self-manage it?

Try to be aware of your posture when pain comes on

Reduce the time spent in one position

Organise OH&S to do a work station assessment

Use heat to reduce pain

Seek postural assessment and exercises to address contributing factors

 

What your physiotherapist can do to help

  • Posture assessment and education (cervical and thoracic spine, scapular position)

  • Ergonomic assessment

  • Pilates education

  • Deep cervical flexor muscle retraining

  • Joint mobilisation

  • Massage and trigger point release

  • Acupuncture or dry needling

  • Taping

  • Stretches (neck, pec muscle)

 

Further Management

It is likely that if posture and aggravating activities are not addressed and modified, then pain will be on-going.  Education and awareness is vital for self-correction.  Pilates is an ideal method of improving stability and correcting posture.