Neck pain is widespread and affects people for various reasons. Whether you were in an automobile accident, have a sports injury, or perhaps you sit for long hours at the computer or have spinal issues, whatever the reason, physical therapy can help.
If you suffer from neck pain, it can limit your range of motion and your ability to participate in everyday tasks and cause pain in your arms, hands, or shoulders. Neck pain can interfere with activities such as playing sports, working, driving, and more.
The good thing is there are things that you can do to help reduce your pain and improve your range of motion. Working with a skilled physical therapist can help improve your quality of life through education, hands-on care, and directed movement. This article will go over some of the symptoms and causes of neck pain, how it’s diagnosed, and how a physical therapist can help you.
Symptoms of Neck Pain That Can Be Relieved By Physical Therapy
Anyone with neck pain can tell you that there are many symptoms they feel depending on the day. Some of the symptoms that you may experience include:
- Sharp pain
- Stabbing or dull pain
- Throbbing or tingling
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle tightness
- Decrease mobility
- Difficulty reading or driving
- Radicular pain
- Tenderness and soreness
If your neck pain is due to irritated nerves, it may extend into your shoulder blades, upper back, hands, or arms. This is known as radiculopathy, and a qualified physical therapist will help create a specific program to relieve your pain and improve your movement.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
There are various causes of neck pain; however, some of them are more common, including the following:
- Poor posture that puts your neck in an awkward or an unnatural position
- Trauma from a motor vehicle accident
- Sports Injuries
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Herniated or bulging discs
If your neck pain continues for over a few days and you can’t find relief through heat, ice, or over-the-counter medicine, it’s an excellent idea to make an appointment with a physical therapist to see how they can help you.
Physical Therapy For Neck Pain
When you search for a “physical therapist near me,” you will find many options. It’s essential to choose a physical therapist experienced in neck pain and other related issues who can create a personalized treatment plan to help you.
Your Physical Therapy Evaluation
During your first appointment, your physical therapist will complete an evaluation which will help them gather necessary information about you and your issue. They will also conduct an examination which will likely include the following:
- Test your range of motion (ROM) to show them how far you can move your neck in various directions. They may use a goniometer to measure your ROM and will also note the quality of your movements.
- Testing your strength in your hands and arms if your pain radiates down your arm.
- Check for tenderness. Your physical therapist will use their hands to check for tight or sore muscles, and they may also measure your spine’s mobility.
- Check your posture to determine if it contributes to your neck pain. Your physical therapist will measure your resting posture and have you sit with the correct posture to identify if postural correction would help improve your symptoms and reduce the pain in your neck.
- Test your functional mobility to determine how your neck pain affects your ability to perform daily tasks and your quality of life. They may have you perform a specific task to assess your overall functional mobility.
Physical Therapy Treatment for Neck Pain
After your evaluation, your physical therapist will create a personalized program to help decrease or eliminate your neck pain. They will also educate you on how to prevent future neck pain. No one type of physical therapy treatment program suits everyone.
When creating a treatment program for you, some of the physical therapy treatments that your therapist may recommend may include but are not limited to the following include:
- Exercises and stretching
- Cold or heat application
- Dry needling
- Deep tissue massage targeting specific regions
- Joint manipulation
- Sports physical therapy
Your physical therapist will use some of these techniques whether you have a new injury or are dealing with a chronic injury and want to stay healthy and fit.
Benefits of Physical Therapy for Neck Pain
Whether you are an athlete, a busy professional, or an active parent, staying healthy and strong in your body is a priority, and you will benefit greatly from physical therapy. Below are some of the many benefits people experience.
#1. Reduce or Eliminate Neck Pain
When you work with a skilled physical therapist, they will help you learn how to modify activities or avoid further injuring your neck so that it can begin to heal. Following through with the exercises they provide, including stretches, changing movements, and other passive therapies, will help to reduce and eliminate your neck pain.
#2. Avoid Surgery for Neck Pain
A tremendous benefit to physical therapy is that many individuals with neck pain can avoid surgery even with severe radiculopathy, which is pain that travels down the neck into the hand or arm by following a customized treatment program.
#3. Improve Your Posture
Posture is often a contributing factor when people are experiencing neck pain. Your physical therapist will use their specialized training and techniques to help improve your overall posture so healing can occur and help prevent further neck and back issues and pain.
#4. Improve Your Range of Motion
An experienced physical therapist will select certain activities and treatments that will help to restore your range of motion and reduce stiffness in your joints. Therapy may include passive motions, where your physical therapist will perform the movements to move your spine, and active exercises and stretches that you can do during treatment and at home.
#5. Improve Your Flexibility
During physical therapy, your physical therapist will teach you gentle stretching exercises to help reduce muscle tightness that you can perform during treatment and at home to help improve your flexibility.
#6. Improve Your Body Strength
If you have a muscle weakness or an injury, your physical therapist will teach you techniques and the correct exercises to restore your strength and agility gently. Core strengthening and stabilization are commonly utilized to help regain strength and coordination in the muscles around your spine and neck.
#7. Improve Your Endurance
Once your muscle strength has been restored, your physical therapist will help you build muscular endurance to help prevent future injuries, allow you to return to your daily activities, and play the sports you love.
#8. Improve Your Quality of Life
Enjoying your life and doing the things you love, such as running, golfing, swimming, CrossFit, and other sports-related activities, are essential to improving your quality of life. Your physical therapist will create a treatment program to help you reach your goals safely, fast, and effectively.
As your neck heals and the pain lessens, it’s crucial for you to continue following your improved movement habits and maintaining correct posture to help keep you pain-free.
#9. Learn Techniques to Practice at Home
A significant benefit to working with physical therapists as they will teach you exercises that you can do at home, such as stretching, strengthening, and pain reduction exercises, to help speed up your recovery and significantly reduce your risk of future injury.
UpSlope Physical Therapy Near Fort Collins, CO, Is Here to Help You With Your Neck Pain
Neck pain can become debilitating, leading to severe headaches and tension. Physical therapy has been proven to reduce the symptoms and severity of neck pain significantly. Therefore, it is widely utilized as an essential tool to help those suffering from neck, back, and knee pain and recovering from sports injuries.
At UnSlope Physical Therapy & Performance, we aim to help athletes and active adults recover from pain or injuries to improve their quality of life and stay active. We understand how to create customized treatment programs to help you achieve your goals.
Contact us today to request an appointment.