Neck Pain

How common is neck pain?

Neck pain is common.  It affects people more with increasing age, peaking around 70 years of age before declining a little.  Though it is not as common as back pain.

Neck pain has become more common in the working-from-home rush.

Have you been affected?  If you haven’t, you will know many people who have had it.

Isn’t neck pain a minor complaint?

No. Because it causes a lot of disability and suffering. And it affects productivity.  If you have a sore neck, it’s difficult to concentrate on your work.

How to relieve neck pain

Stay active

It’s really important to remain as active as the pain permits.  The rules are slightly different, depending on how long you’ve had your pain.

Use painkillers?

The recommendations on this are changing.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are often prescribed.  But there’s recent evidence they may prolong pain.  Codeine is sometimes prescribed.  But opioids can cause dependency.


There is evidence that osteopathy, chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage are helpful.

What causes it?

It’s highly unlikely to be caused by any sort of disease process.  These are rarely the cause.  But it is possible; so it’s worth consulting an experienced clinician if your pain persists for more than a few days.

“Non-specific neck pain”

Often, it’s difficult to identify the cause, for certain.  Doctors and therapists frequently blame muscle tension and joint strain.  But this is hard to confirm through examination.  Clinicians will often give the same person a different diagnosis.  This can be stressful.

Muscular tension and joint strain are often assumed to be the cause.

Diagnosis versus Functional Assessment

At AXB we provide a Functional Assessment.  While we help you understand the likely causes, it’s important for you to know what to do to get better.  And what to avoid.  This is where the Functional Assessment comes in. We will provide a FA at your first appointment.

“Shouldn’t I have an MRI for neck pain?”

Probably not.  What is found on MRI often bears little relation to how you feel.  The MRI may show nothing and yet you may have a lot of pain.  Equally, it may show a disc prolapse and yet your symptoms are not those of a prolapse.  It’s important to have a clinician who specialises in neck pain to help you.


  • Moving often helps to prevent neck pain
  • Minimise over-loading. If you do more than your ncck is used to, you may strain it.
  • Avoid prolonged static postures.  As above, move often.
  • Minimise stress.  Stress aggravates all pain.
  • Have a supportive mattress and pillow.  But make sure it’s not too hard for you either.  Pillows that are too high or too low can cause problems.

When to see a doctor

If you have neck pain AND you answer “yes” to any of the below, we recommend you see a clinician specialising in this area:

Compared with during your waking day, is your pain worse when trying to sleep?

Have you lost any great amount of weight without meaning to over the last year?

Have you been diagnosed with Cancer at any time?

Have you had neck surgery in the last 2 years?

Do you have any difficulty gripping things, or a heavy arm?

Have you suffered any significant trauma recently, which in any way could impact on your neck?

Have you been on a prolonged course of oral corticosteroids (steroids by mouth) in the past or now?

Have you had a persistent high temperature or chills recently?

A fierce headache with or without the inability to bend your head forwards?

Are you also having episodes of dizziness or nausea?

If you do answer yes to one of the above, please contact us, rather than rushing off to your doctor.

AXB has specialised in relief AND prevention since 1993.  Our team, based in the West End of Edinburgh are keen to help you.

Secure your appointment today, by clicking the Book Now button.