Dr Mathew Tung Neurosurgeon

Dr Mathew Tung, Neurosurgeon

MBBS (Singapore), FRCS (Surgical Neurology UK), FAMS

Dr. Mathew Tung is a specialist in the management of acute and chronic neck pain.

Dr. Mathew Tung’s neck pain clinic in Singapore specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic neck pain. He provides non-invasive and effective treatment to patients throughout Singapore.

What Causes Neck Pain?

Many people suffer with acute or chronic neck pain. A modern lifestyle where too much time is spent in poor posture, using tablet, or smartphone is one of the most common causes of neck pain. This poor posture leads to misalignment and subluxation throughout the spine, which causes not only neck pain but often radiant pain throughout the body including the shoulders and arms.

Whiplash and other injuries sustained in car accidents are another major cause to the development of neck pain.

Osteoarthritis, degenerative diseases, and abnormalities in the bones and joints can also contribute to neck pain. 

Patients should seek immediate medical attention if their neck pain is accompanied by shooting pain, numbness, or loss of strength in arms or hands.

How is neck pain diagnosed?

Dr. Tung performs comprehensive manual examinations of the neck and spine. He takes a holistic approach to health and wellbeing so will also ask questions about the patient’s lifestyle, general health, and any possible accidents or activities that could contribute to the neck pain. 

In many cases, Dr. Tung finds that the patient is suffering from “text neck” which is an unnatural forward positioning of the cervical spine. This forward position leads to misalignment and nerve compression. 

If a patient has been in an accident, he or she should seek assessment and care as soon as possible, even if there are no symptoms. Often the adrenaline surge following an accident masks any painful symptoms for several days. Dr. Tung will be able to diagnose any issues even if there isn’t any pain.

How does Dr. Mathew Tung treats neck pain?

Dr. Tung provides his patients with expert pain control methods:

  • Physical Methods: Physiotherapy.
  • Oral Medication: To reduce inflammation to the neck area.
  • Steroid injection that helps with reducing the inflammation.

Tensing your muscles is a normal response to stress and heightened emotions, such as anger, nerves, or frustration. You may also get into the habit of holding certain sets of muscles in a tense, fixed position when performing basic everyday actions, such as moving around or sitting on your desk. This tension, however, is a major cause of neck and back pain.

Trapezius Muscle

Causes to Muscular Tension

Poor posture, injury, overexertion, differences in leg length, and conditions such as scoliosis can all cause you to tense specific sets of muscles, as the muscle compensate for any difficulties these problems create. Stress and emotional pressures are the main triggers for over-tense muscles, but difficulty sleeping or poor nutrition can also cause an increase in muscular tension. Holding your muscles for any length of time in a tense, contracted position limits blood flow to your muscles and restricts the supplies of nutrients and oxygen that they need to work properly.

All this can lead to pain and muscle spasms, which in turn put strain on the joints and ligaments so that they too become tender and sore.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Pain from excess muscle tension may start with dull ache, but can become extremely painful. Muscles that are regularly held in a contracted and tense position for extended periods of time may also develops “knots”, or “trigger points”. These are particularly tender areas that are easily irritated, sending waves of pain out to other, often distant, parts of your body. Your doctor will make a diagnosis by performing a physical examination.

Risks and Recovery

You should always check that the pain is due solely to chronic muscular tension, rather than any illness or physical problem. If you hold your muscles in a tight, tense state for a very long time, they can become permanent shortened and stop functioning properly.

Treatments for Muscular Tension

Call +65 64712674 for an appointment to treat Muscular Tension today. Same day appointment.

If you have suffered from a neck problem for three months or more, your pain will be described as “chronic”. The pain may be severe or mild, constant or intermittent; these factors will determine the degree to which it affects your life.

Neck Pain
Neck Pain


Precise causes of chronic neck pain are often difficult to determine. In more than 50% of sufferers, it stems from the facet joints as a result of osteoarthritis, spondylosis, or a previous trauma such as a whiplash injury. If you have nerve-root pain, the most probable cause is a prolapsed disc. Less common causes of chronic neck pain include myofascial pain.


The symptoms of chronic neck pain are similar to  those of acute neck. Older people with degenerative changes in their neck may experience grinding or grating when moving, causing stiffness and aching. Recurrent episodes of more disabling pain can be triggered by trivial movements such as rotating your neck suddenly, jolting or jarring, and extending your neck or bending forwards for sustained periods of time. Numbness, pins and needles, and weakness in your hands may be a sign of cervical myelopathy – when the spinal cord in the neck is squeezed by degenerative changes in the bones and discs, leading to impairment of the nerves, affecting the arms and sometimes the legs – or spinal cord compression. Advanced cervical myelopathy may affect walking and gait. Chronic nerve-root pain may cause neuropathic features – when a nerve or nerves are damaged over a long period, leading to abnormal processing of pain – such as burning sensations. Mood and sleep patterns may become disturbed; the impact of the pain on your life can cause frustration and sometimes depression.

Risks and Complications

The physical risks of chronic neck pain are associated with the more serious conditions of major disc prolapse or cervical myelopathy leading to spinal cord compression. Other significant complications of chronic pain relate to its effect on your life, work, relationships, mood, and fitness.

Treatment for Facet Joint Pain

  • If your pain has been diagnosed as being caused by a facet joint problem, you should
    • take painkillers
    • start physiotherpy
  • If your pain is moderate to severe,and you have not improved with physiotherapy, you should see a specialist. The specialist may:
    • perform MRI and injections to the neck.
  • If the specialist decides that injections are not appropriate or are not working, he may:
    • suggest a functional rehabilitation programme
    • suggest an operation
  • If a more specific diagnosis leading to effective treatment has not been made
    • use medication wisely and appropriately.

Treatment for Myofascial Pain Syndrome

  • If your pain has been diagnosed as being caused by a myofascial problem, you should:
    • take painkillers
    • start physiotherpy
  • If you are still in pain, your doctor may refer you to a specialist, who may:
    • consider giving you a low dose of an antidepressant to relax your muscles and improve sleep quality.
    • identify trigger points. If these are found, he may use trigger-point injections.
  • If after several months you are still in pain, your specialist may:
    • suggest a functional rehabilitation programme.

Treatment for Disc-Related Pain

  • If your pain has been diagnosed as disc-related, you should:
    • take painkillers
    • start physiotherapy
  • If your pain is moderate or severe and it has not improved with physiotherapy, then you should see a specialist. He may:
    • perform MRI.
    • offer further treatment, such as prolotherapy.
  • If your spine has degenerated of the disc is badly damaged, your specialist may:
    • suggest surgery
  • If your specialist feels that treatment is not working,
    • a functional rehabilitation programme to improve the range of motion.
    • suggest surgery
  • If treatment has improved your symptoms, you should:
    • continue to practise good neck care

Call +65 64712674 for an appointment to treat Chronic Neck and Nerve Root Pain today. Same day appointment.

Acute neck and nerve-root pain describes several conditions that affect the cervical spine region, and can also cause head pain. In the long term, it is rarely as disabling as low-back pain, but the severity of acute nerve-root pain ca be just as bad as sciatica.

Neck Pain
Neck Pain


This pain can be caused by strain of the facet joints and ligaments, and disc herniation. Muscular pain is more of a chronic condition but can flare up. Your neck is also vulnerable to extend indirect trauma, as in whiplash syndrome. When acute neck pain arises spontaneously in young adults or adolescents it is called acute torticollis, or “wry neck”. Disc prolapse with nerve-root compression is the cause of the most severe pain.


You may feel sharp pain, centrally or to one side of the neck, with intense, dull aching that can spread further into the shoulder blade area and half-way down the thoracic spine. You may have stiffness due to your spine being trapped by a muscle spasm (known as “splinting”), and worse pain on certain movements such as bending forwards, backwards, sideways, or rotating. You may also find it hard to sit in a car or at a computer for long periods. The pain is often troublesome at night and lying down may make it worse. If a nerve is compressed or irritated, a sharp pain will radiate down your arm as far as your hand, accompanied by sensory disturbance such as pins and needles or numbness. If your motor nerve fibres have been damages, you may develop weakness in your upper arm/or forearm.

Risks and Complications

The risk of serious consequences of acute neck pain is extremely small. Most of the time the pain eases over a few weeks without specific treatment The main risk lies in too much rest, the fear of triggering pain through everyday movements, and the idea that more pain means further harm, as these can lead to loss of confidence and mobility. If you have developed pain after direct trauma such as a blow to the back of the neck, then you should obtain immediate medical advice.

Treatment for Cervical Disc Herniation

Herniated Disc

Seek Medical Attention

If you suspect your pain is caused by a cervical disc herniation, you should:

  • Relieve your pain by finding the least painful position.
  • Use ice pack for the first day of pain.
  • Take painkillers.
  • Try not to rest for more than 2-3 days.

If after 7-10 days and you are still feeling pain, you should:

  • Stay as active and mobile as you can, while being careful to avoid extreme movements of your neck.
  • Avoid prolonged reaching or working with your arms extended.
  • See a doctor for stronger painkillers.

If after 2-4 weeks and you are still feeling pain, you should:

  • Consult a doctor for further examination and treatment.
  • See a specialist for an epidural steroid or nerve-root injection.

If after 6-8 weeks and you are still feeling pain, you should:

  • You may need to have an X-ray, MRI or blood test for further evaluation.

Treatment for Acute Torticollis

Seek Medical Attention

If you suspect your pain is caused by acute torticollis, you should:

  • Use ice packs and take some painkillers

If after 3 days and the pain increases, you should:

  • Avoid prolonged static positions

If after 7-10 days and the pain increases, you should:

  • Consult a doctor for further examination, advice, or treatment.

If after 6-8 weeks and the pain increases, you should:

  • You may need to have an X-ray, MRI or blood test for further evaluation.

Treatment for Whiplash

Whiplash Injury

If you suspect your pain is caused by whiplash, you should:

  • See a doctor to get your neck assessed to exclude more serious bone or nerve injury.

If after 7-10 days you are not able to resume normal activities, you should:

  • Consult a doctor for further examination, advice, or treatment.

If after 6-8 weeks you are not recovering as expected, you should:

  • See a specialist regarding the benefit from facet joint injections.
  • You may need to have an X-ray, MRI or blood test for further evaluation.

Call +65 64712674 for an appointment to treat Acute Neck and Nerve Root Pain today. Same day appointment.

Minor neck injuries may result from tripping, falling a short distance, or excessive twisting of the spine. Severe neck injuries may result from whiplash in a car accident, or sports-related injuries.

“Burners” and “Stingers”

If you’ve played contact sports and suffered a burner or a stinger, you remember it. The pain shoots from the shoulder to the hand “like an electric shock or lightning bolt down the arm”. A burner or stinger is an injury to the nerve supply to the upper arm, either at the neck or shoulder, often following a fall onto the head – for example, following a tackle in football.

What Happens?

When the head is forced sideways and downward, it bends the neck and pinches the surrounding nerves. As a result, you may feel numbness or weakness in the arm and possibly a feeling of warmth.

Usually the symptoms subside quickly – within seconds or minutes – but in up to 10 percent of cases, the unpleasant sensations can last hours, days, or longer.

What Should be Done?

You should immediately get checked by a doctor. An examination will confirm the type of injury. If the symptoms pass, you will probably need no treatment. But you may need further medical attention if you experience weakness lasting more than a few days, neck pain, symptoms in both arms, or if you have a history of recurrent stingers or burners. Having a narrow spinal canal – spinal stenosis – may make you more prone to burners and stingers.


When your head is jerked violently and unexpectedly backward or forward – typically in a car accident or during contact sports – the resulting injury is known as whiplash. It can also be called cervical sprain (or strain) or hyperextension injury.

Whiplash Injury
Whiplash Injury

What Happens in a Whiplash Injury?

The pain is caused by the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) of the neck being forced to the very limit of their range of motion. If the ligaments are torn, there will be internal bleeding bleeding between them and the vertebrae. You may start to feel pain and experience stiffness in the neck within minutes or it make take several hours for symptoms to be felt. Further symptoms that result from whiplash may include neck spasms, dizziness, and headache.

What Should be Done?

It’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Modern surgical treatment with internal fixation (screws, plates, rods) has eliminated the need for cast treatment in all but the most unusual circumstances. A plastic collar may be used for a short period.

Subject to your doctor’s advice, anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy may help relieve discomfort in the early stages the recovery process.

You can expect a full recovery within a couple of weeks, although some people have problems for longer.

Call +65 64712674 for an appointment to treat Neck Injuries today. Same day appointment.