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Why Does My Back Or Neck Hurt?

About one in 5-6 individuals in Singapore suffer from back pains or neck pains...and this is a startling statistic.

Unfortunately, even though back pains and neck pains are so prevalent, being able to pinpoint exactly what causes these pains can be challenging. Fortunately, spinal physiotherapy and conservative management resolves up to 95% of back and neck pains; with up to 5% needing surgical intervention.

our spine is complex

Our back and neck is quite a complex structure that has moving and connecting parts which are:

  • joints
  • ligaments
  • bones (vertabrae)
  • muscles
  • disc
  • nerves

...and that's why any form of back or neck pain experience isn't just "one" of these items being damaged or affected - most of the time, it's a combination of physical, habits and environmental conditions. And this is why treating back pain can be challenging - it's because the back is complex.

This means that back and neck pains can have multiple factors, causes and injuries at different times, that layers and affects each other. This means that treating back and neck pains will require:

  • more time to assess
  • more time to treat
  • multiple angles and types of treatments

But first, we need to deep-dive and find out what truly causes your back and neck to ache/hurt.

Why does my neck or back hurt?

The most common causes are:

  1. direct trauma ie falls, blows, accidents and secondly is
  2. the amount of stress and load that goes through our spine daily*

More often than not, it's number #2 above that's more common - the repeated stress and load that stresses our back and neck on a daily basis, be it

  • prolonged sitting at work
  • poor use of lifting mechanics
  • overplaying in sports and activities
  • not exercising frequently enough

Done repeatedly, this can hurt the structures in our spine in a few ways, such as causing ligaments to over-stretch, discs to bulge/shift, strained muscles and joint injuries.

Good spine habits and Health

For our back to be healthy and strong, our spine needs to "just nice" in its joints - not stiff/tight nor overly-relaxed/loose. The muscles of the back, core, hips, and legs ideally should be strong yet balanced and flexible.

If there is stiffness/tightness, poor alignment or imbalance (collectively known as core instability or weakness), will lead to our spine bearing the brunt of the load...which ultimately leads to back pains and neck pains.

Three stages of back and neck pain

There are 3 different stages to back and neck pain –

  1. acute stage
  2. sub-acute stage
  3. chronic stage

Treatments are different at different stages.

Acute stage (The first few days) 

At the first 72 hours of back pain, our focus is primarily to facilitate pain relief and decreasing inflammation.

At this stage, we focus/use more gentle mobilization (hands-on) techniques and teach patient to regularly practice exercises, stretches, glides and postures that help with pain relief on painful locations. Sometimes we may use our computerized decompression traction therapy to offload joint compressions, muscle tightness and nerve compression.

We may also use special equipments such as ultrasound therapy (accelerates soft tissue healing), cold therapy to decrease inflammation or Indiba radiofrequency therapy.

Sub-acute stage (from 3 days to 3 months)

When the injury isn't acute anymore and then pain and inflammation has decreased, what we will then work on is to start:

  • mobilizing and gliding the back and neck joints which would have become stiffer
  • improve alignment which may have slackened
  • stretch joints and muscles that may have tightened
  • strengthen muscles that may have weakened
  • start on deep core and back strengthening and stabilizing exercises

Goal at this stage is to restore flexibility, strength, stamina and balance in the back and neck joints, muscles and ligaments, which will help with full spine recovery and decrease reinjury rate. If patients has issues such as poor ergonomics at home or work, or poor form at sports and flat feet, that has to be managed too.

Chronic stage (more than 3 months)

When the pain and back/neck conditions hadn't been resolved after such a long period of time...unfortunately, more often than not, there will be longer-lasting problems such as:

  • improper alignments in the spine
  • unmanaged biomechanical issues

Or maybe due to poor posture at work or home that contributes/aggravate the condition. If patient hadn't been working on their core strength, it'd also contribute to recurring or non-resolved back conditions, which require spine physiotherapy and clinical pilates too for core strengthening.

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Phoenix Rehab Singapore Core Services And Specializations

Phoenix Rehab Group works with specialist physiotherapists and specialist rehab therapists who are highly trained, qualified, experienced and passionate to provide high level of expert care to our patients.


Patients who sustained injuries to their elbows, forearms, hands, wrists (sprains and fractures) and fingers, and requires Hand Therapy to increase the function of their hand following injuries or post-operations and custom made hand splints.


Clinical Pilates is a form of physical exercise that focuses on posture, core stability, balance, control, strength, flexibility, and breathing.

It is a system of safe and effective exercises, which meet specific individual needs, to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions.



Sports and deep tissue release massage helps to increase nutrient-rich blood flow to tired , tight and tense muscles to accelerate recovery and shorten downtime. It also helps prevents muscles from scar tissue micro-tears (and future ruptures), and increases muscle performance. When done regularly it will keeps your muscles and you healthy and fit and have body/movement-confidence.


Having a dedicated personal trainer/personal training helps you get faster and better health, fitness and wellness results.

You can expect better fat loss and muscle gain, have reduced risks of injury, establish effective exercise and health habits as well as overcome those annoying "flatline plateus" to breakthrough to your next level of fitness and weight loss.

All our allied health therapists and TCM physicians are fully insured and registered with Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board (TCMB).

See our entire team here by location and specialization.

At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to help you recover as well as provide treatment in the same session. 

Follow up sessions are inline to provide expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term solution.

do Tell Your Family, Friends And Colleagues About Us =)

We appreciate you as a patient and want you to know that the #1 (and only) way we grow as a clinic is through word of mouth referrals from valued patients like yourself.

We do not rely on advertising - instead, we prefer and appreciate the goodwill and positive reinforcement from patients. When you have the opportunity, please take the time to tell your family, friends and physicians about the positive results and experience you have had in our clinic.

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