A medical doctor will usually refer a patient for physical therapy for neck pain. Although it is a very common condition, neck pain is associated with stiffness and physical therapy can help in restoring movement and relieving pain. Treatment plans will be made depending on varying degrees of the pain and its underlying causes.
Neck pain is a very common medical condition. It can be caused by basic day to day living and growing older. It can also be caused by accidents and injuries. Neck pain can also be a symptom of other medical conditions.
Normal daily activities can be stressful to the body. It can cause the neck muscles to contract and tighten which normally results in stiffness and pain. Sitting too long at a desk is also another common cause of neck pain.
Poor posture, weak muscles of the abdomen and obesity can also create an imbalance with the spine. This causes the neck to compensate and bend uncomfortably.
As people grow older, they begin to develop age-related medical conditions. Degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis are conditions that have direct impact to the cervical spine. When the bones rub together due to osteoarthritis, it causes neck pain.
Getting into accidents can also cause injuries to the neck. When a patient experiences a sudden movement of the neck in any direction, this can cause the head to rebound. The muscles react to this movement by contracting and tightening causing neck pain. More serious neck conditions can result in cases of severe whiplash.
There are several treatments that a physical therapist can use with neck pain.
Deep tissue massages uses direct friction and pressure to relieve tension on affected ligaments, muscles and tendons thereby relieving neck pain. This is usually applied to treat chronic pain, muscle tension, limited mobility due to stiffness and common injuries like whiplash, sports injuries and falls.
Alternating cold and hot packs moves more blood to the affected area. Cold therapy is effective is slowing down circulation, reducing inflammation, spasms and neck pain. Also known as cryotherapy, ice can be applied to the injured area to create a numbing and analgesic effect.
Heat therapy can effectively open up blood vessels to allow the blood to flow freely to the target area. Also known as moist heat, this increases the circulation and delivers increased supply of nutrients and oxygen.