Common Myths about Neck Pain

“I hurt my neck, so I will probably have bad neck pain forever”

While neck pain can be very painful, the majority people make a very good recovery. Occasionally flare ups of neck pain can occur over a lifetime, but these are rarely disabling. Simple advice and a sensible approach can help symptoms to settle, feel manageable and allow you to continue with your regular activities.

“I have neck pain - I should stay in bed and rest or use a collar”

In the first few days after an initial injury, avoiding aggravating activities may help to relieve pain, similar to pain in any other part of the body, such as a sprained ankle. However, scientific studies now advise that prolonged rest and the use of neck collars actually lead to higher levels of pain and a poorer recovery. A gradual increase in exercise and a return to all usual activities, including work and hobbies, have been shown to reduce the risk of future episodes of pain and disability.

“My neck pain is due to something being ‘out of place’”

Although this is a feeling that people often experience, there is no evidence that neck pain is caused by a bone or joint being out of place. A common misconception is that neck manipulation treatment realigns the spine however research shows that this type of treatment does not put anything back in to place or structurally change the neck.

“The more neck pain I have, the more my spine is damaged”

More pain does not always mean more damage. Pain can be influenced by a multitude of factors, including the situation in which the pain occurs, previous pain experiences, your mood, fears, fitness, stress levels and coping style. If you have neck pain it might be that the nerves involved in processing pain are relatively more ‘active’ compared to other people. This can mean you feel more pain when you move or try to do something, even though you are not damaging your spine. In such cases a number of strategies, including exercise, can be used to help lessen the pain and disability experienced.