When that “pain the neck” isn’t just a saying
Neck pain is extremely common; one in three people will experience neck pain this year, and for many people, the pain will go away on its own. However, others may experience continued pain and disability long after the initial injury or onset of pain. Often there is no clear “why” for your neck pain—studies have shown that neck pain, like back pain, is not necessarily caused by arthritis or herniated disc shown on your X-ray or MRI. While there may not be a clear answer for why you have neck pain, our physical therapists here at Back At Work Physical Therapy can help you map out your path back to a normal, pain-free neck.
Your neck, or cervical spine, is made up of seven cervical vertebrae and connects to your thoracic spine (upper back). It serves to support your head and protect your spinal cord and has many muscle attachments. Neck pain often affects more than just the neck—you may feel pain between your shoulder blades, in your shoulders, or even have headaches. The nerves in your neck may also be involved with your neck pain, causing numbness, tingling, or weakness into your arms and hands.
Office workers are more susceptible to neck pain because prolonged postures (sitting, staring at a computer screen) can cause increased stiffness, while poor ergonomics and repetitive movements such as mousing can increase the likelihood of developing numbness or tingling into the hands. Your physical therapist will assess your neck, upper back, and arms, but they may also ask about your office set up and how frequently you move throughout the day. Here are some common conditions we treat:
Commonly Treated Neck Conditions:
- Muscle strain
- Ligament Sprain
- Herniated disc
- A pinched nerve (radiculopathy)
- Neck stiffness or chronic pain
- Arthritis or degenerative joint disease
When to seek a physical therapist:
- You have increased neck pain or stiffness in the morning
- You are experiencing numbness, tingling, or weakness into the arms or hands
- You have started having headaches or have noticed a change in your normal headaches (frequency, quality, or intensity)
- Your neck or upper back/shoulders feel tight or painful after sitting or standing for long periods of time
- You are unable to complete your normal activities of daily living or work duties because of your neck pain or discomfort
- Turning your head causes pain
- You feel like just stretching isn’t alleviating your symptoms
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have been diagnosed with one of the conditions listed above, contact us today.
If you have been dealing with chronic neck pain for several weeks, it’s time to call your physical therapist.
You don’t have to learn to live with chronic neck pain anymore, not on our watch. Schedule an appointment with us today and we’ll help you get started on the road to a pain-free lifestyle.
The Key Factors in Recovery – Exercise and Posture
- Controlled, supervised exercise can help improve blood flow to the muscles in the neck and restore muscle balance, in addition to helping the individual regain joint mobility.
- A PT will create an exercise program that can be completed at home, or at work. The number of sets and repetitions is carefully planned, and the technique, range of motion, posture and breathing of all your movements is supervised by the physical therapist.
- Once your pain level reduces, your PT will help you regain control of your muscles to reduce pain and get you back to full function.
Improving posture is an important component of treatment for chronic pain. Poor posture can lead to chronic neck pain.
- Have you thought about the amount of time you are at your computer? Or even how you sit in your chair? Your physical therapist will evaluate your posture and help you improve it with simple stretching and strengthening movements.
When you are at home or at work, hot and cold packs and a neck pillow can also be helpful. Your physical therapist may decide to teach you simple techniques to promote muscle relaxation and help you reduce chronic neck pain.