What is Neck Pain?
Neck pain typically runs from the base of the skull to the top of the shoulder blades, in the back of the neck. The pain can range from sharp and stabbing to a constant dull ache. Part of the reason why neck pain is so debilitating is that many additional symptoms can accompany it, including but not limited to:
- Numbness or tingling
- Arm weakness
- Stiffness and muscle tightness in the upper body
- Inability to fully stand up or to sit up straight
- Discomfort and pain when remaining in the same position for too long
- Loss of sleep due to pain and discomfort
Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain is usually caused by some sort of injury to the tissues or bone structures in the neck. Certain degenerative conditions can also lead to neck pain. Here are the most common causes of neck pain:
- Injuries: Auto collisions that result in rapidly whipping the head back and forth can lead to whiplash. This is a strain injury on the soft tissues in the neck. Injuries sustained during high-impact sports can also result in neck pain.
- Muscle Strains: Neck muscles can be strained by overuse. Something as simple as sitting in front of a computer for too many hours with your head bent forward can cause neck strain.
- Joint Degeneration: The neck joints can erode with age, just like any other joint in the body. Arthritis can also reduce the cartilage between the vertebrae in the neck, causing pain.
- Nerve Compression: A herniated disc in the neck can compress the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. In certain cases, the nerve pain can extend from the neck all the way down into the hands and fingers — a condition known as “radiculopathy.”
- Illnesses: Certain diseases, such as cancer, meningitis, or rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to neck pain.
How Physical Therapy Helps Neck Pain
Physical therapy can be one of the best methods for the treatment of neck pain, according to WebMD. Your physical therapist will work with you during the diagnosis phase to determine the range of motion for your neck and any current limitations due to the pain. You will then work together to come up with an individualized treatment plan to overcome the pain and help you recover as quickly as possible. Your therapist will also determine whether certain treatments are more likely to make the condition worse so those can be avoided.
Treatments for neck pain will likely include manual therapy, a type of massage designed to reduce stiffness in the neck and improve your range of motion. Your therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen and build up the muscles and tissue structures impacted by the neck pain. Treatments might also include the application of ice and heat packs, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. Your physical therapist will also work with you on improving your posture to help the neck muscles recover and to avoid further re-injury.
Whether you’ve been living with neck pain for a while or if you’ve just recently begun to experience it, physical therapy can help you recover more quickly. Contact Us Today at Fort Worth Head, Neck, & Jaw to request a free pain consult.
Fort Worth Head, Neck, & Jaw is One-on-One, manual therapy based physical therapy.