Physical therapy is one of the most common ways to provide neck pain relief. There are several reasons that can cause neck pain. We will discuss them in this article. We will also go through when physical therapy is suggested for neck pain and some of the exercises that give neck pain relief.
Causes of neck pain
You might suffer from neck pain because of the following reasons.
- Muscle tension and strain
This is usually due to a sedentary lifestyle and behaviors such as bad posture, sitting for prolonged periods without changing position, laying down or sleeping with the neck in a poor position, and jerking your neck while doing exercise. You need to change these habits if you truly desire to get neck pain relief.
Neck is especially prone to injury during accidents, falls, sports, and so on. It happens when the muscles and ligaments present in the neck are forced to extend beyond their normal range. Neck injuries resulting from jerking is termed as whiplash.
- Heart attack
Neck pain can also be a symptom of a heart attack. However, it can also represent various other symptoms which include shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, nausea, sweating, and arm or jaw pain. If you are noticing other symptoms of heart attack other than neck pain then visit your doctor immediately.
Meningitis is a medical emergency. In this condition, the tissue that surrounds the brain and spine goes through inflammation. The symptoms of meningitis are fever and headache along with a stiff neck.
Osteoporosis refers to the weakness in bones and can result in small fractures. This disease usually occurs in the hand and knees but can also happen in the neck.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
This condition can result in pain, swelling of joints, and bone spurs. If these take place in the neck area then neck pain can occur. Physical therapy is required in such cases for neck pain relief.
When should you get help from a physical therapist to get neck pain relief
Physical therapy for neck pain relief is suggested in a variety of situations. They are given below.
- When the source of pain is not identified:- If the pain stays for a long time or keeps coming back then physical therapy can be useful. Even without diagnosis, physical therapy can strengthen the neck muscles and can provide neck pain relief.
- While recovering from an injury– If you have experienced a whiplash then the soft tissues of your neck and joints can get damaged. It can result in pain and stiffness that can stay for weeks or even longer than that. You should seek help from a physical therapist in such a case.
- While recovering from surgery– Surgeries performed in the neck area can result in immense amounts of pain and stiffness for weeks and months. Let us take an example, an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion surgery can change how the neck and back muscles move since this surgery requires fusion of 2 or more vertebrae in the neck.
Physical therapy will provide neck pain relief, reduce stiffness, enhance neck function and help in avoiding spasms.
Physical therapy exercises that help in alleviating neck pain
Your physical therapist might suggest these exercises for neck pain relief. These exercises are the following.
- Chin Tuck- It is meant for strengthening the neck muscles. Chin Tuck is very useful in tackling neck pain. To perform this exercise, it is advised to stand with your spine against a door jamb and your feet 3 inches away from the door jamb. Then, follow the steps given below.
- After positioning yourself against the door jamb, extend your head and backwards till your head comes in contact with the door jamb. Ensure that your chin is down and the head is pulled straight back. Do not look up.
- Maintain this position for 5 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise 10 times.
- Prone cobra- It is an advanced exercise meant for strengthening the muscles of shoulder girdles, neck and back. Do the following to perform this exercise for neck pain relief.
- Lay down on the floor with your face facing down.
- Place your forehead on a rolled up towel for comfort.
- Position your arm at the sides and your palms should touch the floor.
- Rest your tongue on the floor of your mouth.
- Now, punch your shoulder blades together and raise your hands off the floor.
- Keep your elbows rolled in, palms out and your thumbs up.
- Slowly raise your forehead about an inch off the towel. Keep your eyes looking straight at the floor.
- Maintain this position for approximately ten seconds.
- Repeat this exercise 10 times.
Consult your physical therapist before performing any of these exercises. Avoid doing neck circles as it exerts pressure on the cervical spine. You can also go for passive physical therapy as an initial treatment for neck pain relief.