Neck pain is a very common problem affecting 60-70% of the population at some point in their lives. These symptoms can vary from very sharp pain to dull, aching and burning. The pain can cause restricted movement of the neck and in the surrounding shoulder and shoulder blade. In some cases, symptoms may travel down the arm to the hand causing pain or numbness and tingling and in more severe cases weakness is noted in the arm or hand. If you’re experiencing neck pain, physical therapy may be an effective treatment that can provide relief.
The neck is a very mobile structure which allows movement in many directions. This mobility can lead to vulnerability to injury and disorders that produce pain and restrict motion. The cause of neck pain can occur from poor computer posture, falls, whiplash or often for unknown reasons. Common neck problems can consist of facet syndromes, herniated discs, osteoarthritis as well as muscular pain and tension.
For many people, neck pain is a temporary condition that disappears within several days, but for others this is not the case and early intervention of physical therapy can shorten the duration of pain and stiffness.
Manual therapy interventions are found to be very beneficial in treatment of the cervical spine. Techniques of joint mobilization, deep tissue mobilization and muscular retraining are proven to be significantly effective treatments.
An individualized exercise program is developed for each patient’s specific problem, often focusing on the deep neck muscles and the postural muscles of the shoulders and shoulder blades.
Education on proper techniques and postures for work, athletic and daily activity is an essential component of treatment.
Symptoms of Cervical Radiculopathy
Cervical radiculopathy is a term to describe compression or irritation of the nerves that supply the arm. When these nerves are compressed or irritated they cause pain and feelings of numbness and tingling down the arm and occasionally into the hand. Occasionally there is no neck pain associated with this condition and only arm or hand symptoms. Movement and position changes of the neck can reproduce the arm/hand symptoms in this case.
A course of manual therapy in conjunction with an individualized exercise program is found to be the most relieving and effective treatment for this condition. As the pressure begins to reduce on the nerve, treatment to the associated areas of muscle spasm and joint stiffness frequently helps reduce the remaining symptoms. Exercise training to assist in returning to normal activity is the primary goal. Modalities such as ice and electrical stimulation can be utilized to reduce the acute inflammation and pain as well.
Acute neck pain is usually described as a sudden locking while turning the head or following sustained periods of looking up or down. Occasionally, patients awake with a “crick” or a “wry neck” for no particular reason. Both of these situations can cause very sharp, specific pain especially in one particular direction.
Very often turning the head to look over either shoulder is the most painful and is usually very limited. Frequently, there is a moderate amount of muscle spasm associated with these specific movements. This can significantly limit the ability to perform normal activities such as driving, looking up, looking over your shoulder or raising your arms overhead. There are usually no symptoms in the arms or hands.
Manual therapy is found to provide a significant reduction in pain and increased ability to move in a very short time frame, usually no more than 1-2 visits.
Techniques of joint mobilization, deep tissue mobilization and muscular retraining are proven to be significantly effective treatments for this condition. Assessment and treatment of the underlying cause for this condition such as poor sleeping habits, neck weakness, postural stresses and associated areas of stiffness are the key to long term relief and reduction in re-injury. A key component for this condition is patient education and an individualized exercise program.
Modalities such as ice and electrical stimulation can be utilized to reduce the acute inflammation and pain.
Symptoms associated with this condition include aching, burning, tightness, and tender trigger points of the muscles surrounding the neck, usually in the upper trapezius muscle. Often, pain is felt between the shoulder blades as well. These symptoms usually worsen as the day progresses and feel better in the morning or with rest.
Manual therapy interventions are found to be very beneficial in treatment of this condition. Techniques of joint mobilization, deep tissue mobilization and muscular retraining are proven to be significantly effective treatments. Specific exercises to improve blood flow through the muscles are beneficial. An individualized exercise program is developed for each patient’s specific problem, often focusing on the deep neck muscles and the postural muscles of the shoulders and shoulder blades. Re-education of breathing patterns is also found to be helpful. Education on proper techniques and postures for work, athletic and daily activity is an essential component of treatment.
If you’re dealing with neck pain and you’d like to get an initial consultation with a licensed physical therapist, we may be able to help. Crafted Physical Therapy serves Longmont Colorado and surrounding areas. We can usually get a new patient booked within 24-48 hours, so give us a call today to schedule your appointment.