Neck pain is considered to be one of the most prevalent global health conditions affecting both developed and developing countries (Louw et al 2017). One particular group that is increasingly vulnerable to neck pain is office workers, with 49% of Australian office workers reporting it in one year (Hush et al 2009). It may not surprise you but in the last decade, the occurrence of neck pain lasting more than 3 months has increase to 67% in computer users (Bau et al 2017). Ongoing neck pain amongst office workers is linked to decreased productivity and quality of life (Rutanen et al 2014).
Why are office workers more likely to get neck pain?
When you sit at a desk all day you often hold your neck and upper back in the same position for a long period of time, which can lead you to certain muscles and joints being overworked, causing you some discomfort (Verhagen et al 2013). The symptoms are often exaggerated, if you have poor posture or regularly do repetitive awkward movements (Buckley, 2016). When you are tired you tend to bring your head towards the screen which puts more pressure on the postural neck muscles such as the deep flexors. Furthermore, if you hunch at your desk it will cause you rotate your shoulder forwards, this is normally due to an imbalance in your chest, neck and shoulder muscles and can cause strain and tightness as a result (Hoe et al 2012).
Subsequently, exercise therapies have been developed as a preventive treatment in order to strengthen, improving neck function, quality of life and reduce pain levels (Andersen et al 2012). These are often supported by treatments from manual therapist including physios and osteopaths.
How do I as an osteopath treat neck pain?
Firstly manual therapy is recommended for neck pain and your osteopath or physio should tailor your treatment for your personal case (Vinent et al 2013). The treatment will often use a range of gentle movements to increase the range in your neck and surrounding joints as well as reduce any muscle tension and pain you may have (D’Sylva et al 2010). They will often use different massage techniques and stretches to release any muscle spasms. Depending on your diagnosis, age and general health they may manipulate your neck which is a technique that may cause the joint to ‘click’ which are proven to decrease pain and disability ( Franke et al 2015;Mandara et al 2010). Moreover they will often prescribe exercises and stretches in order to help maintain the effects of treatment and to prevent it from coming back in the future.