Do you wake up with a stiff neck and attribute it to sleeping incorrectly? At the end of a long day, do you find yourself rolling your head to stretch out your tired and sore neck? Neck pain may be caused by muscle strains, stress, injury, arthritis, or a pinched nerve. It is estimated that 15% of adults experience chronic neck pain. Despite the cause of the pain, recovery is possible with physical therapy.
While it is not necessary to determine the root cause of the neck pain, a consultation with a physical therapist is recommended to design an effective treatment plan. The evaluation consists of the therapist observing the patient’s range of motion (left, right, up, down). The posture of the neck, back, and shoulders is also a critical factor. Sometimes, x-rays and CT scans are necessary if the condition warrants further evaluation.
Everyday neck pain can be easily treated with over the counter medications, but chronic neck pain will persist despite any medication taken. Many patients make the mistake of taking addictive prescription medication to mask the pain. Over time, it becomes clear that physical therapy is necessary to eliminate the pain instead of masking it.
Physical therapists utilize massage, stretching, heat, and ice to work the muscles without further injury. Massage, when combined with ice and heat therapy, aids in relieving muscle spasms. Stretching exercises help restore the full range of motion to the neck. It also strengthens the adjoining back muscles as well. Both reduce the risk of further injury to the affected area as well.