Physiotherapy Treatment for Neck Pain

An Overview of Neck Pain

Neck pains are one of the most common forms of injury or pain in the lower part of the head, at the start of the spinal cord and the pain can extend to the shoulder and the neck region. There are several causes for neck pain that include poor posture, head injury, physical injury or even a bad sleeping position. While most neck pains improve after a period of time, chronic causes such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, herniated disc will need more time and medical intervention. However, physiotherapy treatment for neck pain can help alleviate pain, relax muscle and speed up the recovery process.

Goals of Physical Therapy for Neck Pain

Since neck pain can cause great discomfort in everyday activities and can get worse over time if not treated well, the goal of physical therapy is very simple. It is to reduce the pain and discomfort, improve mobility in the neck and head region, improve muscle strength all while ensuring that the neck is not further injured by poor treatment plans.

When Physical Therapy May Be Recommended

Most neck pains can be cured within a few days with simple stretches and movement exercises that can be done at home. If this does not work, physiotherapy can be recommended for the following reasons:

Unspecified chronic pain - you can engage in physiotherapy when there is constant and recurring neck pain that doesn't have a traceable cause. This can help increase muscle strength

Recovering from an injury - it is important to be on a good physiotherapy regime while recovering from an injury that impacts your neck. Soft tissue injuries can be treated well with various forms of physiotherapy interventions.

Recovering from surgery - this also needs physiotherapy intervention as it allows a smooth transition from surgery induced pain to improving mobility in the neck region with ease.

When to Avoid Physical Therapy for Neck Pain

While in most cases physiotherapy can be useful in improving mobility and reducing pain in the neck region, it can also cause more injuries, if done incorrectly. It is important to know when not to engage in physiotherapy. Here are a few times when it may not work:

It is best to avoid physiotherapy when you have significant instability in the spine and the neck region, which can have various causes such as major injury, intense pain, etc. This can worsen the pain as it adds more stress to the muscles and the spinal cord.

Another time to avoid it is when there is an underlying medical condition such as tumors or infections. These can get worse with more physical activities, and hence a proper diagnosis for physiotherapy is needed.

Treating a Neck Pain with Physiotherapy

Neck pain can be treated by two main methods - active and passive physical therapy. 

Passive physical therapy

It refers to the type of treatment, where the patient is not required to actively engage in any forms of exercise. Treatments such as ice packs, heat therapy, electrotherapy are such forms, that help in reducing pain and inflammation in the neck region

Active physical therapy

It refers to the therapy where the patient is an active part of the healing and recovery process, where they are to perform exercises and stretches. These are aimed at improving movements and flexibility in the neck region.

Neck stretches and exercises

This is one of the most common forms of exercises that will allow improvement in mobility of the neck muscle region, and increase flexibility and reduce pain in the neck and shoulders. Some of them are mentioned below

Corner stretch - this is a simple exercise that you can perform at home, that stretches your chest and shoulder muscles. To do this, stand two feet from a corner and face the corner. Now place both your hands on both sides of the corner, getting into a “push -up” position. Now lean in till comfortable and stay in the position for 30 seconds. Repeat till you're comfortable.

Levator Scapulae Stretch - this is performed to help the levator scapulae muscles in the neck region improve mobility.

You can stand with your elbows stretched on the sides, and place the arms against a door jamb. This creates a stretch in the muscles. Now, move your head side to side, and chin upward and downward. Repeat gently, several times.

Core and back strengthening

 

It is also important to ensure that the core and the back muscles are also strengthened. This will help ease the stress on the neck. Here are a few exercises that can be performed to keep the core strong.

The Bridge:

 To perform the bridge, you need to lie down on your back first. Now, Put your knees in the air and raise your body hip into the air, with your back on the floor. Now squeeze the buttocks with the shoulder muscles. Slowly come back to the lying position and rest. Repeat a few times

Knee to Chest stretches

These are simple exercises where you lie down on your back, and bring your knee close to your chest, with the help of your hands. When you bring the knee, make sure you pull on them, to increase flexibility in the muscle area. Repeat a few times

Cat Stretches

This can be performed by getting on the knees and palms on the floor. While Arching your back, pull the belly button up towards the spine. Now relax and allow the abdomen back to its resting. Repeat a few times.

Acupressure for neck pain is also seen to be an effective option for treatment. The therapist finds accupressure points for neck pain and shoulder pain and conducts the treatment.