Neck Pain: An Occupational Hazard – A Case Study

Published on: 2018/05/24

Dr. Karen Wu, Owner and Clinical Director of ActiveCare Physical Therapy® in New York and Mumbai


Prolonged posturing like a forward head, side bent or rotated head can shorten or strain the surrounding muscles and cause the muscles to pull up on the bone. Stretching the surrounding muscles will only provide temporary relief as the bone underlying is stuck and not sitting in the right position.

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Neck Pain: What are the common causes?

Neck pain can be caused by a number of factors. It can be due to common conditions like neck strain, injury or pinched nerve, whiplash, muscle cramps. It can also be due to infections like viral throat infection, swelling of lymph node, or rare infections like meningitis, tuberculosis of neck. Spine bone infection, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, spondylolysis, scoliosis, and spondylosis are some bone-related injuries that can cause neck pain. While these are some medical conditions, there are other common factors that can cause neck pain- for example, uncomfortable or wrong positioning of the neck while sleeping. Neck pain can also result from poor posture during work, neck accidents, or sports injury.

What are the common symptoms of neck pain?

Neck stiffness, pricking sensation in the arm, a stiffness of the shoulder, headache, dizziness, and pain in the arm, wrist or hand are some of the common symptoms of neck pain.

How do I relieve a stiff neck?

Neck pain is commonly caused by stiffness or sprain. The common causes of the stiff neck are:

  1. Poor posture while sleeping
  2. Sports injury
  3. Swimming – which involves repeated turning of head side to side
  4. Work – poor posture while using a computer or a mobile phone
  5. Holding mobile phone between shoulder and neck for a long time
  6. Stress or anxiety
  7. Lifting heavy objects

Simple exercises can relieve one of a stiff neck. A physiotherapist would be able to guide you with simple exercises and gentle stretches that can relieve a stiff neck. Hot/ cold therapy can also help to relieve neck pain. Ice packs can reduce inflammation when applied within a day of the neck pain. Heating pad helps to improve the blood flow and helps to create a healing environment.

Read the full text on Neck pain – An occupational hazard case study in which the renowned physical therapists Karen Wu explains how physiotherapy helps to relieve neck pain.

How to avoid a stiff neck?


Always maintain good posture. If the neck pain is caused by the nature of your work, try to create a setup that would help you have a posture that does not affect your neck. Maintain a proper posture while sleeping.

Practice neck exercises to make your neck muscles strong

Neck exercises help to strengthen your neck muscles and also have better flexibility. Ask your physical therapist for an exercise program that you can practice regularly. Following the exercise program strictly would help to make your neck muscles strong.

A physiotherapist helps in diagnosing the neck pain and helps you deal with posture correction. The therapist also helps you develop muscle flexibility and endurance so that you can maintain the posture and reduce the recurrence of similar injuries in the future.