Neck Pain Relief
Physical Therapy Can Help That Pain in Your Neck!
Neck Pain…Who Needs It?! Not You!
Most of us experience neck pain at some point in our lives. Any given year, approximately one-third of the population will experience neck pain according to the American Physical Therapy Association. We wake with pain or stiffness from falling asleep on the couch with less than ideal support, or in a new bed and pillow perhaps at a hotel, or falling asleep on an airplane in an awkward position. Many people work computer based jobs that require them to be looking at a computer screen all day and the ergonomics aren’t ideal; that which can result in a severely sore neck as well as pain, numbness and tingling down the arm due to a ‘pinched nerve in the neck’. Neck pain can be uncomfortable and mildly interruptive of one’s activities, or debilitating and greatly impair daily, work and recreation or sport activities.
Neck pain rarely remains a local pain, and often affects one or both of the shoulders. It can get worse if not treated, and in severe cases, surgery may be necessary. Whether neck pain causes problems for you when sleeping, taking care of the kids, working, trying to sit up straight in your chair at work, or tilting your head down to tie your shoes, physical therapy can help get you back to a normal, pain-free function.
Many people are able to find relief from their neck pain through the help of physical therapy. Our Portland, OR physical therapy practice is dedicated to providing you with the relief you need, so give Rose City Physical Therapy a call today!
Symptoms of Neck Pain
Neck pain tends to remain relatively local to the neck in most cases. Pain levels can vary in severity, from a persistent, dull ache and stiffness, to sharp and stabbing pains. At times it can radiate into one of both of the shoulders or down into the mid-back at times. Severe neck pain can cause what is understood as somatic referred pain into one or both upper extremities – a diffuse deep ache over a broad distribution. And if a nerve is irritated, one can experience radicular symptoms into the upper extremity – numbness, tingling, lancinating pain and possible weakness in select areas of the arm or hand.
Neck pain can sometimes include additional symptoms, including but not limited to:
- Arm weakness
- Inability to fully stand up or sit up straight
- Numbness or tingling into the upper extremities
- Stiffness and muscle tightness in the upper body
- Discomfort after remaining in the same position for too long
- Loss of sleep due to pain and discomfort
Causes of Neck Pain
Neck pain, like low back pain, commonly occurs due to injury or progressive degenerative conditions. Injury to soft tissue, joints or the vertebrae (bones) causes neck pain; however, there are specific degenerative conditions that lead to neck pain as well. There are also other less common causes of neck pain. Some of these can be serious medical conditions including meningitis, cancer, or infection and require medical attention beyond that which physical therapy can offer. Our orthopedic clinical specialists at Rose City Physical Therapy are well versed in their differential diagnosis skills and determining the possible cause of the pain, and if further medical attention is necessary we’ll help get you steered in the right direction.
Neck Pain Due to Injury: Auto Accidents and High-Impact Activity
Injury can be a single trauma event such as a motor vehicle accident which causes whiplash and possible concussion, or a cumulative repetitive trauma such as repeated falls skiing or during high-impact sports collisions such as occurs playing football. Clearly this may also cause concussion, that which you can read more about here under our Concussion section. Whiplash has a specific defined stage and grade classification known as the Whiplash Associated Disorders, that which helps determine the severity and course of care.
Neck Pain Due to Degenerative Conditions
Research shows that some structures about the neck – discs, ligaments, joints and their surrounding capsule and cartilage – degenerate through the lifespan. “Degeneration” is a big scary word; basically it means normal wear and tear. Imaging studies reveal that uninjured, normal healthy individuals with no history of or current neck pain have a certain degree of disc and joint degeneration once we hit the fourth decade of life. It is a normal process. It’s advancing degeneration – known as degradation – that can result in moderate to severe pain and disability.
Osteoarthritis is the most common degenerative condition in the neck. Osteoarthritis reduces the amount of healthy cartilage between the facet joints. In turn, surrounding bone spurs and calcium buildup occurs and this can lead to stenosis. Stenosis is a narrowing of the canal the nerve runs through as it exits the neck vertebrae into the upper extremities. Disc degeneration is also common as we age. Advanced disc degeneration narrows the space between the vertebrae which in turn can narrow the canals for the nerves, leading to stenosis. This in turn can cause a “pinched nerve” and lead to numbness, tingling, lancinating pain and possible weakness in select areas of the arm or hand.
At Rose City Physical Therapy we have physical therapist specializing in spine rehab – care for the neck, mid-back (thoracic spine) and low back – who can differentially diagnosis precipitating factors of your symptoms and provide individualized treatment to get you to hurt less, do more and get back to doing what you love.
Physical Therapy Can Relieve Your Neck Pain
Physical therapy is one of the most effective and safest methods for treating neck pain and dysfunction. Our physical therapists will conduct a comprehensive history of your problem, and complete a thorough physical evaluation which assesses your range of motion in your neck, strength, nervous system integrity, posture as well as any restrictions you have due to your pain.
Your physical therapist will then be able to offer a diagnosis – what the prevailing problem(s) are – that will determine what your individualized treatment plan consists of. The plan of care will focus on restoring your function and achieving goals important to you with the main focus being overcoming neck pain and recovering as quickly as possible.
What Is Physical Therapy Treatment For Neck Pain Like?
Neck pain treatment, like treatment of most problems we see, is focused around an active approach through education, therapeutic exercise and functional activity. Postural correction, if indicated, is also important. If appropriate, workstation ergonomics for your computer work station or other demands of work will be included in the course of care. Manual therapy, or “hands-on” therapy, which consists of special techniques to restore mobility and joint motion may also be used for your care. If acute injury or pain exists and there is guarding and muscle spasm, we may use a variety of modalities to treat these symptoms.You don’t have to tolerate your pain in the neck any longer! Contact Rose City Physical Therapy to request an appointment with one of our licensed Portland, OR physical therapists today. We will help you get started on the road to recovery.