Neck pain is a common complaint. If it makes it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, perform everyday tasks during your day, or keeps you from activities you love, it might be time to seek medical care for that pain in your neck.
Causes for Neck Pain
Tension, misalignment, stress, muscle strain, injury, joint issues, and nerve damage are just a few possible causes for neck pain. Although there are some serious illnesses that cause neck pain, the overwhelming majority of cases stem from poor body mechanics or posture. That means the way we sit and move.
When you meet with your physical therapist (PT), be sure to discuss your hobbies, work practices, and sleep situation to provide insight on where the problems lie. With this information and an examination, your PT can suggest anything from the right kind of keyboard to a shoe lift.
Home Care for Neck Pain
When your neck feels tight, practice basic stretches such as looking slowly to the left and then to the right. With your head back at center, tip one ear towards your shoulder and repeat on the other side. Be gentle with yourself. The goal is to stretch tight muscles, not to cause more injury.
You can also take anti-inflammatory medications for a few days and practice a schedule of ice and heat. You could even look into seeing a massage therapist to help relieve tight and stiff muscles.
Most of the time, neck pain is nothing to worry about, but see a doctor if you experience severe pain, you can’t get any relief after several days, the pain radiates down your arms or legs, or you also have a headache, numbness, or weakness in your extremities.
Benefits of Physical Therapy for Neck Pain
When you find it difficult to look over your shoulder while driving, raise your eyes to the sky, or have a nagging pain that you can’t seem to resolve, physical therapy can likely help.
While strengthening muscles and improving your range of motion are certainly benefits, there may be other perks you haven’t thought about.
For example, PT can help decrease the intensity, frequency, and duration of headaches. As a result of fewer headaches and reduced neck pain, you may also be able to decrease medication use. Overall, if you can get that pain in the neck under control, you’ll experience a better quality of life.
PT Techniques to Relieve Neck Pain
Whether you’ve decided to begin PT or are still wondering how it can benefit you, understanding what a typical appointment might look like is a good place to start in your journey. Note that every case is different, so a personalized plan will follow your initial evaluation, but the techniques below are generally helpful for many types of neck pain.
Stiff muscles and alignment issues both contribute to neck pain and headaches. An experienced physical therapist can use manual therapy techniques to alleviate stiffness, increase mobility, decrease muscle tension and spasms, and improve muscle performance.
Although you may feel like movement is the antithesis for your painful problem, research has shown benefits of exercise as a treatment for neck and other types of pain. Your PT will evaluate your abilities and design a treatment plan that fits within your capabilities. These stretches and exercises will help build strength, range of motion, stability, and endurance, which will result in less pain and inflammation.
A big part of helping yourself is understanding what is going on beneath the surface. Your PT can provide images and materials in order to gain a better image of what the joints and muscles are battling. Depending on your diagnosis, education around stress relief, understanding triggers, or proper posture can also help.
The bottom line is that you likely don’t have to live with that pain in the neck. Give Encore Physical Therapy a call to see how we can help.