01322 275 402
West Hill Physiotherapy, Tower Road, Dartford, Kent, DA1 2EU [See map]
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Neck pain

Whiplash injuries

Whiplash is a term used to describe an injury to the neck. It occurs when the neck in forced into a forward (flexed) position and then into a hyperextended position. This is normally caused during a motor vehicle accident during a rear collision. It can also occur through a slip and fall onto the back and through contact sports such as during a rugby tackle.

The sudden forced movement causes the muscles in the neck to contract violently to protect the spine causing a strain to the muscles. There may also be injury to the ligaments in the neck and in severe cases, damage to the discs in the neck.

Common symptoms deriving from a whiplash injury can include pain and stiffness to move the neck and pain and stiffness across the shoulders. There is normally tenderness and soreness in the muscles in the neck. Occasionally there may be other symptoms including headaches, referred pain into the shoulder and arm, pins and needles or a feeling of numbness or heaviness in the arm.

Whiplash symptoms may come on suddenly or may appear several hours after the injury occurred. It is always advisable to seek medical attention from a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
  • Loss of consciousness at the time or after the injury
  • Loss of muscle power in the arms or legs
  • Pins and needles in the arms or legs
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty with articulation of speech
  • Difficulty with the ability to swallow
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Blackouts
Physiotherapy is frequently recommended by medical professionals following a whiplash injury. It has been suggested that intervention within the first six weeks of injury can give the best prognosis for recovery. Fortunately, most people make a 100% recovery from their injuries. Initially the main stay of treatment with physiotherapy is to settle pain and restore range of movement. Exercises are often given following treatment to aid the recovery process.

Torticolis/Wry neck

Torticolis/Wry neck is a complaint where you develop neck pain and stiffness, which is often accompanied by spasm of the surrounding neck muscles. This causes neck pain and an inability to turn your neck through its full range of motion. Wry neck can also be referred to as acute wry neck since the onset is sudden - or acute!

Wry neck is an extremely common condition which can be quite disabling as the sufferer experiences constant severe pain with simple neck movements. Luckily wry neck treatment is normally very successful in a short-period of time!


Headaches can be caused by a number of different factors. The most common cause for headaches treated here at the clinic are tension headaches. Tension headaches are normally caused by overload and stress to the muscles in the neck. Environmental factors and stress can cause overload to the muscles but more commonly the muscles become tight through poor posture. This causes the connective tissues to become tight forming tight painful bands in the muscle tissue which prevent a good blood and oxygen supply to the muscles causing pain and restriction.

Cervical osteo-arthritis (spondylosis) � better known as �wear and tear�

This is a degenerative process whereby the discs in the neck have become dehydrated over many years causing some of the joints in the neck to come into close contact with one another. This slowly causes an erosion and wearing of the cartilage, between the joints in the neck. Unfortunately because our bodies cannot regenerate cartilage more bone is laid down instead. Over a long period of time this can lead to a reduction in range of movement in the neck and pain. The main stay of treatment is to improve the range of movement between the joints and improve flexibility in the soft tissues and muscles in the neck and shoulders.

This is a really common condition which is treated here at the clinic and in most cases symptoms can be significantly reduced and even resolved within a few treatment sessions. Whilst we can�t treat or stop the osteo-arthritis once it has developed, we can certainly help you to manage your symptoms better through exercises, advice and education about the condition.

Nerve root irritation �trapped nerve�

Nerve root irritation is a condition whereby a nerve becomes irritated by the tissues and structures which surround it such as muscle, joint, spinal disc. The nerve root is where the nerve exits your spine such as at your neck or lower back.

The nerve roots are very sensitive to changes in pressure and require a healthy blood and oxygen supply to function normally. When the nerve becomes irritated symptoms can include radiating pain down the arm or leg, sensitivity to touch and tenderness, muscle tightness and spasm, numbness and pins and needles.

The nerve root can become irritated and trapped by several causes:
  • Excessive muscle stiffness
  • Poor mobility in the spinal joints (facet joints)
  • Disc bulge pushing on the nerve (also known as a slipped or herniated disc)
  • Osteo-arthritic changes causing excessive calcium build up and bone, reducing the space for the nerve to pass through as it exits the spine via the spinal cord.
Fortunately, in many cases, physiotherapy can be really helpful in settling down this very painful and disabling condition. Treatment is normally aimed at reducing pressure, stiffness and increasing mobility over the area of the compressed nerve tissue. Acupuncture can also aid in the reduction of pain by allowing for the release of endorphins (your body�s own natural pain killers) and by releasing tight and painful muscles. Education and advice on posture and exercise are also given to aid recovery and restore movement to the joints, muscles and nerve tissue.

If you are experiencing additional symptoms such as progressive muscle weakness, dizziness, double vision, problems with the articulation of your speech, ability to swallow, nausea, vomiting and pain and numbness in the face, we recommend that you seek medical attention from your GP or local A&E prior to booking an appointment.

For more information or to book an appointment please call 01322 275 402 or email info@westhillphysio.co.uk. Alternatively please feel free to complete the form below.
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