Neck Pain Treatment Singapore

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Dr Poh Seng Yew

MBBS

MRCSEd

MMED (Ortho)

FRCSEd

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What is Neck Pain?

Neck pain is a form of discomfort that arises from factors influencing the structures within the neck region. This pain, often experienced as stiffness, soreness, or tension, can result from causes including poor posture, muscle strain, overuse, or injury.

The neck’s complexity, with its intricate network of muscles, ligaments, and vertebrae, bears the weight of the head and facilitates movement, making it prone to stress and discomfort.

Causes of Neck Pain

Neck pain is commonly caused by the following sources:

  • Poor Posture
    Extended periods of slouching can strain neck muscles and lead to spinal misalignment, leading to ongoing discomfort. This is especially relevant in contemporary work environments and lifestyle habits characterised by prolonged sitting and often poor ergonomic practices.
  • Muscle Strain
    Activities that involve overuse of neck muscles, sudden movements, or lifting heavy objects can cause muscle strain. This results in localised or radiating pain often felt as sharp or persistent aches in the neck area.
  • Injury
    Certain events, such as whiplash from car accidents, falls, or sports-related impacts, can cause trauma to the neck tissues. This results in inflammation and pain, which may be acute or progress to chronic pain.
  • Herniated Discs
    The displacement of spinal discs, which press on nerves, creates a sharp or shooting pain. This condition often leads to muscle weakness and can exacerbate neck pain.
  • Arthritis
    Age or wear-related degeneration of cervical joints leads to stiffness, tenderness, and ongoing neck pain. Arthritis is a common cause of neck discomfort, particularly in older populations.
  • Nerve Compression
    Conditions like spinal stenosis, where the spaces within the spine narrow, can compress nerves. This causes tingling, numbness, and aching discomfort in the neck area.

Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms and signs of neck pain are diverse and may disrupt sleep, work, and leisure activities, affecting overall quality of life.


  • Aching and Stiffness: Individuals with neck pain often describe a persistent ache or stiffness in the muscles. This discomfort often limits movement and can feel more pronounced after periods of inactivity or overuse.
  • Radiating Pain Beyond the Neck: The pain can extend beyond the neck to the shoulders, arms, or upper back, impacting a larger area and sometimes leading to headaches. This radiating pain is indicative of the interconnected nature of the musculoskeletal system.
  • Reduced Mobility: Neck pain often results in a decreased ability to turn the head, tilt it sideways, or nod. This reduction in range of motion can interfere with daily activities, making simple tasks challenging.
  • Muscle Spasms and Nerve Symptoms: Some individuals experience muscle spasms, tingling, or numbness along with the pain. These symptoms may point to nerve involvement and require careful assessment.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of neck pain is a systematic process, that often involves several steps:

  • Medical History and Symptom Analysis: Initially, the neck specialist will look at the patient’s medical history, focusing on the onset, duration, and triggers of the neck pain.
  • Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination follows, where the neck specialist assesses posture, range of motion, and specific points of tenderness in the neck.
  • Diagnostic Imaging: Techniques such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans are often employed to visualise the internal structures of the neck. This can reveal details about bone structure, spinal alignment, and possible anomalies in soft tissues, aiding in the diagnosis.
  • Nerve Function Tests: In cases where nerve involvement is suspected, tests to evaluate nerve function might be conducted. These tests help identify signs of nerve compression or damage, which could be contributing factors to the neck pain.
  • Blood Tests: If conditions like arthritis or other systemic issues are suspected, blood tests may provide additional information to support the diagnosis.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatments play a role in managing neck pain, especially when the condition is not severe enough to require surgical intervention. These focus on relieving pain, improving function, and addressing the underlying causes of neck pain.

Rest and Activity Modification

Initially, the neck specialist may suggest resting the neck and modifying strenuous activities. Adequate rest allows strained neck muscles to recover, while gentle movement helps avoid stiffness and supports overall recovery.

Physical Therapy

Customised physical therapy exercises can help strengthen the neck muscles, enhance flexibility, and improve posture. These exercises aim to alleviate tension, correct imbalances, and support the neck’s structures.

Pain Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs, offer short-term pain relief.

Heat and Cold Therapy

Heat and cold therapy might be recommended as part of the treatment. Cold packs can reduce swelling, while heat promotes blood circulation and muscle relaxation.

Ergonomic Adjustments

Optimising workspace ergonomics and maintaining proper posture can help alleviate pain and prevent the further deterioration of the condition. Adjustments in chair height, monitor placement, and keyboard alignment, coupled with regular breaks, are effective in reducing neck stress.

Massage and Manual Therapy

These techniques focus on releasing muscle tension, improving circulation, and promoting relaxation. They can help relieve discomfort and improve neck mobility.

Surgical Treatment Options

Surgical intervention may be considered under specific circumstances, particularly when non-surgical treatments are ineffective, and structural or nerve-related abnormalities are identified.

Discectomy

This procedure involves the removal of a herniated disc that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. It aims to relieve nerve pain and restore normal function.

Spinal Fusion

In this surgery, two or more vertebrae are fused. It is often used to stabilise the spine and alleviate pain caused by movement between vertebrae that have been damaged by arthritis, a herniated disc, or other conditions.

Laminectomy

This involves the removal of part of the vertebra (the lamina) to create more space and relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. It is often performed in cases of spinal stenosis, where the narrowing of the spinal canal causes pain and mobility issues.

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Prevention Strategies

Preventative strategies are aimed at minimising the risk factors of neck pain and maintaining neck health.

  • Adjusting the Workspace to Prevent Neck Strain - This includes adjusting chair height, monitor position, and keyboard placement to promote a neutral neck position, reducing strain during prolonged periods of work or computer use.
  • Regular Exercise - Engaging in regular exercise strengthens the neck muscles and improves flexibility. Activities like swimming, walking, and yoga are particularly beneficial for neck health, as they encourage good posture and reduce the likelihood of strain.
  • Proper Posture - Maintain a proper posture, especially when sitting for long periods. Keep the back straight, the shoulders back, and the neck in a neutral position to reduce stress on the cervical spine.
  • Using Neck Support While Sleeping - Using a supportive pillow and sleeping in a position that maintains the natural curve of the neck can prevent discomfort. A pillow that is too high or too low can strain the neck muscles.
  • Taking Regular Breaks to Rest the Neck - Taking frequent breaks from prolonged sitting or repetitive activities gives the neck a chance to rest and reduces the risk of muscle fatigue and strain.
  • Using Proper Techniques for Heavy Lifting - When lifting heavy objects, use proper techniques to avoid strain on the neck. Lifting with the legs and keeping the load close to the body can help.
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Dr Poh Seng Yew

MBBS

MRCSEd

MMED (Ortho)

FRCSEd

With over 18 years of experience, Dr Poh Seng Yew is an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in hip, knee, shoulder and elbow surgery, sports medicine, and trauma surgery.

  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), National University of Singapore
  • Member, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (MRCSEd)
  • Master of Medicine (Orthopaedic Surgery), National University of Singapore
  • Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, FRCSEd (Orthopaedic Surgery)
  • Clinical Hip and Sports Medicine Fellow, Orthopädische Chirurgie München (OCM), Germany

 

Insurance

Shield Plans

Corporate Partners

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Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
Singapore 329563
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Weekdays: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Saturdays: 9.00am – 1.00pm
Sundays and Public Holidays: Closed

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    Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
    38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
    Singapore 329563

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    What Exercises Can Help Treat Neck Pain?

    Exercises for neck pain focus on strengthening the neck muscles, improving flexibility, and promoting proper posture. Gentle stretching, neck tilts, and rotations may help maintain mobility and relieve stiffness. Strengthening exercises, such as those involving resistance bands, can also help build muscle support around the neck.

    How Should You Sleep When You Have Neck Pain?

    When experiencing neck pain, sleep in a position that maintains the natural alignment of the spine. Use a supportive pillow that keeps the neck in a neutral position. Sleep on your back or your side and avoid sleeping on your stomach as it can put additional strain on your neck. Additionally, ensuring the mattress provides adequate support can also help in reducing discomfort.

    How Can I Tell the Difference Between Nerve and Muscle Pain in the Neck?

    Nerve pain is often characterised by symptoms like sharp, shooting pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in the arms or hands. Muscle pain tends to be more localised, presenting as soreness, stiffness, or tightness in the neck muscles. Muscle pain can also involve spasms and tends to worsen with movement or activity. If you are unsure about the nature of your neck pain, consult a neck specialist for clarity and guidance.

    When Should I Seek Medical Help for Neck Pain?

    Medical help should be sought for neck pain if it is severe, persistent, or progressively worsening. If the neck pain is accompanied by symptoms like numbness, weakness, or radiating pain, it could indicate a more serious underlying condition. Neck pain following an injury, such as a fall or accident, also warrants a medical evaluation. Early consultation with a neck specialist can aid in the timely diagnosis and treatment of the condition.