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Neck Blog
Matt Hardy

A client case study – neck pain

Welcome back to the blog, here’s another case study of a recent client. This time we’re talking neck pain.

Who was the client?

A man in his 40’s

Why did they come to see me?

He had developed neck pain after increasingly working from home due to the Covid pandemic.

How long did we work together?

8 weeks (4 sessions)

What did we do?

At the assessment we found that he had transitioned to working from home and was set up at his dining table. He had a laptop but had no other equipment to help manage his work station. This change of position was enough to aggravate his neck and upper parts of his shoulders. At the assessment we found that he had worked in desk based work for a long time but had never worked from home. He had no history of neck or shoulder pain.

Physically at his assessment we found that a lot of his pain was coming from his muscles. This was causing stiffness in his neck which was contributing to his pain. He had no signs of problems with the joints in his neck or shoulders, he wasn’t having any headaches and had no signs of anything sinister.

We treated him by getting him to think about how his desk is different to the desk he normally uses. We tried to get him to adapt his set up by repositioning his laptop onto a stand and getting a separate keyboard which will mimic his normal desktop computer set up. We spoke about adding a cushion to his seat to sit him a little higher like at his normal desk and encouraged him to move more often than he normally would. I asked him to target standing from his chair every 15-20 mins for a few seconds to break up his postural position.

Following that discussion we then moved into some manual treatment through massage to his upper shoulders and neck and we gave him some stretching and strengthening exercises to start with.

We followed him up after about 10 days and he had successfully implemented the moving from the chair and was awaiting his employers order of home kit to arrive. Once agin we completed a session of manual therapy and corrected his exercise technique. I also encouraged him to use some heat to help relax the muscles.

We saw him again 2 weeks after and we were starting to see some good improvement. His equipment had arrived and his pain had significantly improved. Again we completed a session of manual therapy and progressed his strengthening exercises.

We caught up for the last time about 2 and a half weeks after the previous session. His pain had mostly settled with the odd short term flare of pain. He was happy to continue to work on his exercises and self manage form this point.

What can we learn from this?

The main learning point from this client is that pain doesn’t mean damage. In this case he had significantly changed his work environment and his body was struggling to adapt to it after many years of using the same/similar set up. In this instance his pain was related to not being used to the postures he was in and his body was effectively going into self protection mode to highlight the problem. We should use this as an example of when ever we change equipment in any setting, whether that be a work set up, new car, new running shoes or new golf clubs. To ease in over time and allow your body to adapt to the new piece of kit. In the same was as you wouldn’t expect to go from running 3 miles straight into a marathon, you shouldn’t expect your body to go from 8 hours a day sat in a certain way straight into 8 hours a day of sitting in a completely different way.

If this has encouraged you to give rehab a chance, please feel free to call or email me. You can also book online via the links on the site.

Thanks again for reading

Matt

Hardy Performance Physiotherapy is a private physiotherapy service that offers high quality rehabilitation for acute and long term conditions, based in Warwick and Southam, Warwickshire.