neck pain HealthActions

Neck Pain & Headaches

Has your neck pain become so intense that you’re having difficulty sleeping? The American Physical Therapy Association says as many as 30 percent of the adult population suffers from neck pain for at least part of every year. If the pain involves the nerves that extend throughout the body from your neck, it can be truly debilitating, resulting in pain in your shoulders, back, arms and even in your hands. Neck pain can also lead to frequent headaches. If neck pain is causing you to lose work or if you can no longer enjoy many of your favorite activities as a result, it’s time to think about working with a physical therapist to improve your condition. Contact us today to learn more about how physical therapy can alleviate your neck pain.

What is Neck Pain?

Neck pain is normally felt in the back of your neck, between the base of your skull and your upper shoulder area. The pain causes a reduced range of motion in the neck, preventing you from looking from side to side or up and down. Neck pain can range from a sharp, stabbing sensation to a dull throb, but it is never pleasant. You will likely have difficulty with everyday activities such as driving, working in an office or exercise when you suffer from neck pain. You may have difficulty standing or sitting up straight because the pain is so intense. The good news is that physical therapy is often the number one recommended treatment for neck pain, and therefore most cases will not require surgery.

Causes of Neck Pain

Neck pain can be caused by a sudden injury or by certain lifestyle choices. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Car accident
  • Falling down
  • Sports-related injury
  • Poor posture
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Prolonged office or computer work
  • Repetitive lifting

Neck pain that involves damaged or injured nerves, known as radiculopathy, is a more serious condition. Your physical therapist will work closely with your doctor to ensure the right course of treatment for this type of neck pain.

Physical Therapy for Neck Pain

Your physical therapist will recommend a customized regimen to help you recover from your neck pain and get back to normal life. The goal will be to speed your recovery and to avoid activities that could cause the neck pain to flare up again. Your personalized physical therapy plan will include exercises that you can do at home and during your therapy sessions. You will also receive a lot of helpful advice, which will include some or all of the following:

  • Identifying and avoiding activities that make the neck pain worse
  • Go for short walks throughout the day, to reduce pain and stiffness.
  • Perform the recommended at-home neck exercises that your physical therapist will prescribe.
  • Apply moist heat or ice packs at the recommended times throughout the day, to reduce stiffness and pain.
  • Avoid soft, comfy furniture. These are great, but they won’t do your neck any favors while it’s healing!
  • Learn proper “body mechanics.” Your therapist will teach you the proper way to lift objects or carry out other activities without causing further neck pain or injury.
  • If your weight is a factor, your physical therapist will work with you on nutrition and exercise to get down to your proper body weight and alleviate your neck pain.

The specific physical therapy exercises that will be recommended for you will largely depend on the cause of your injury. If a traumatic neck injury, such as one from a car accident, is the source of your neck pain, it could be a long and slow road to recovery. The great news is that even with serious neck injuries such as this, physical therapy is still the optimal treatment program. Only in the most severe cases, such as radiculopathy or a spinal injury, is surgery recommended.

You should not suffer from neck pain or try to deal with it on your own. Physical therapy has a proven track record of improving the symptoms and helping patients get back to a normal life, even after a serious neck injury. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist.