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Does Exercise Help Chronic Neck pain?

neck pain assessment

Neck Pain

If you are sufferer of persistent or chronic neck pain it is good to know that there’s lots that can be done to help your pain. Persistent neck ache, stiffness or loss of function can be a real burden on ones lifestyle. It is quite easy to fall into the trap of avoiding activity due to the fear of provoking the pain. Such a loss of valued activities can have a negative impact on not only our physical but also our mental well-being.  It is the natural endorphins released by our bodies after exercise that makes us feel good and helps to relieve stress.  If we don’t exercise the end result is a spiral downwards leading to further de-conditioning, greater withdrawal and so on.

Does pain mean I’m injured?

In the majority of cases pain starts without injury – so it is not tissue damage that causes pain. So what is it then? Well in most cases tissues within the body, such as muscles, become sensitive. It is this sensitivity that can trigger a pain response in certain circumstances. It may be stress, anxiety and fatigue that sensitises our system. As for many, this is the true trigger behind their pains.  How we respond to pain can also be critical.  For example by avoiding activity, guarding our movement and by bracing our bodies.

How can I treat my Neck pain?

The good news is by recognising these different factors and how they affect your pain is the first step in resolving it. Patients who make appropriate changes to their lifestyles tend to do really well. Gradually exposing themselves to the activities they fear can have dramatic effects on their symptoms. It is this ‘confronting of their fear’ which is usually key.

Furthermore there is also good evidence that regular exercise (of whatever form) gets you better. It is our job as physio’s to help coach and guide you through these stages to make sure you get there! So yes exercise does help neck pain, but without understanding the other contributing factors the benefit would be minimal.  Find something active that you enjoy doing – and do it until your hearts content.


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