Neck pain is a common complaint and can be attributed to a number of conditions. Neck pain can also cause loss of motion that holds you back from living your life. The good news is that it is usually caused by joint and muscle problems, not a serious disease. A variety of neck pain treatments can bring relief.
Neck Pain Treatment Options
PPTS’s expert physical therapists will create a treatment program tailored to your specific needs. Neck pain treatment could include:
- Patient education
- Development of home treatment program
- Manual therapy to normalize your range of motion
- Hands-on therapy and (soft tissue mobilization) to work on muscle tone
- Exercises to help normalize movement and increase strength
- Mobilization, a hands-on technique to move the neck joints and muscles to calm pain and spasms
- Manipulation, a single, brief, quick, small movement to specific spots on your body
Neck Pain FAQs
How do I know whether my neck pain is serious enough that I should see a professional? Should I see my doctor or a PT first?
Generally speaking, if you have experienced any type of spine pain that has persisted for more than 5-7 days, it would be beneficial to see a skilled physical therapist for a proper evaluation. This can help determine your source of pain and whether or not you would benefit from physical therapy or if you need to be referred on for advanced imaging.
We recommend seeing a PT first because research has shown that the sooner you seek care from a qualified PT, the better outcomes you’ll have and the less expensive your overall cost of care will be. There has been a lack of research correlating early imaging results and improved outcomes.
If the pain is serious enough that I’ve scheduled a visit for neck pain treatment, what should I do in the meantime? What should I avoid?
It sounds simple, but the easiest thing to avoid is the trigger that may be causing your neck pain. Some people may know the exact trigger – long hours on the computer or breastfeeding, which causes them to look down for long periods of time. Others may not know what is causing their pain but, generally speaking, long periods of time in one position should be avoided. Sleeping on your stomach is an example of a position that can compromise your neck for an extended period of time.
Our joints do not like to be still for any long period! Synovial fluid needs to flow in and around our joints in order to keep inflammation and pain under control. Gentle and non-aggravating range-of-motion exercises are typically recommended, and ice and heat can be used as needed. We also recommend taking a good look at your workspace and sleeping positions and seeing if you can make any tweaks to prevent further or future pain. We do not recommend keeping still… sitting is the new smoking!
I have pain in my shoulders and upper back, could this be caused by neck pain?
It certainly can. Spinal nerves can be impinged by several factors such as arthritis, age-related disc wear-and-tear, and/or herniated or bulging discs caused by trauma or degeneration. Spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spaces in which the nerves travel, can also cause pain in your arms and shoulders. Less common but more serious would be a benign or malignant tumor which could be impinging the nerve root.
A skilled physical therapist will be able to differentiate which type of pain you are having during your evaluation.
How long until I find relief from my neck pain?
The duration of pain can depend on several factors: prior history of the condition, the severity of symptoms, age, general health status, and how quickly you seek care after the onset of pain. Our goal at Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy is to provide each and every patient with a thorough evaluation to determine the best course of action for each individual’s needs and goals.