Neck pain can be a very debilitating experience, especially if the pain stretches from your neck down into your shoulders. It can prevent you from being able to sit up straight in a chair at work or school, and it can even prevent you from performing everyday tasks around the house. About a third of the population will experience neck pain in any given year, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA.) If untreated, the pain can get worse, and in severe cases, a person might need surgery to correct an injury. However, many people obtain relief from neck pain every year thanks to physical therapy. If you’ve been dealing with neck pain and want to see how physical therapy can help reduce the symptoms, contact PREP Performance Center in Lincoln Square, Irving Park, Lakeview, Horner Park, Roscoe Village & Ravenswood Chicago, IL today.
What is neck pain?
Neck pain typically runs from the base of the skull to the top of the shoulder blades, in the back of the neck. The pain can range from sharp and stabbing to a constant dull ache. Part of the reason why neck pain is so debilitating is that many additional symptoms can accompany it, including but not limited to:
- Numbness or tingling
- Arm weakness
- Stiffness and muscle tightness in the upper body
- Inability to fully stand up or to sit up straight
- Discomfort and pain when remaining in the same position for too long
- Loss of sleep due to pain and discomfort
Causes of neck pain
Neck pain is usually caused by some sort of injury to the tissues or bone structures in the neck. Certain degenerative conditions can also lead to neck pain. Here are the most common causes of neck pain:
- Injuries: Auto collisions that result in rapidly whipping the head back and forth can lead to whiplash. This is a strain injury on the soft tissues in the neck. Injuries sustained during high-impact sports can also result in neck pain.
- Muscle Strains: Neck muscles can be strained by overuse. Something as simple as sitting in front of a computer for too many hours with your head bent forward can cause neck strain.
- Joint Degeneration: The neck joints can erode with age, just like any other joint in the body. Arthritis can also reduce the cartilage between the vertebrae in the neck, causing pain.
- Nerve Compression: A herniated disc in the neck can compress the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. In certain cases, the nerve pain can extend from the neck all the way down into the hands and fingers — a condition known as “radiculopathy.”
- Illnesses: Certain diseases, such as cancer, meningitis, or rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to neck pain.
How physical therapy helps neck pain
Physical therapy can be one of the best methods for the treatment of neck pain, according to WebMD. Your physical therapist will work with you during the diagnosis phase to determine the range of motion for your neck and any current limitations due to the pain. You will then work together to come up with an individualized treatment plan to overcome the pain and help you recover as quickly as possible. Your physical therapist will also determine whether certain treatments are more likely to make the condition worse so those can be avoided.
Treatments for neck pain will likely include manual therapy, a type of massage designed to reduce stiffness in the neck and improve your range of motion. Your physical therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen and build up the muscles and tissue structures impacted by the neck pain. Treatments might also include the application of ice and heat packs, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. Your physical therapist will also work with you on improving your posture to help the neck muscles recover and to avoid further re-injury.
Whether you’ve been living with neck pain for a while or if you’ve just recently begun to experience it, physical therapy can help you recover more quickly. Contact PREP Performance Center in Lincoln Square, Irving Park, Lakeview, Horner Park, Roscoe Village & Ravenswood Chicago, IL to schedule an appointment with a licensed physical therapist today!
The minute you feel that familiar pain and pressure coming on, you know you’re in for a bad time. Headaches are regrettable commonplace in today’s world, with 80 to 90 percent of Americans enduring a tension headache at some point or other. But while some headaches are caused by biochemical imbalances, hypertension, tumors or other causes, many of them are the direct result of musculoskeletal problems. Fortunately, physical therapy is tailor-made to address and correct musculoskeletal problems, including the issues behind chronic headache pain. Let’s examine how our physical therapist can help you get rid of those nagging headaches the natural way.
The Musculoskeletal Causes of Headaches
You’ve probably heard of tension headaches, but you may not realize that the tension refers, not to emotional tension, but to muscular tension in the neck. Although emotional tension can certainly promote this muscular tension, so can underlying physical imbalances, weaknesses, or damage. A traumatic injury to the neck such as whiplash is a prime example, with torn neck muscles and strained connective tissues referring agonizing pain to the head, face, and shoulders as well as the neck.
Tension Headaches and the Dura Mater
But the classic tension headache is caused by a more subtle form of strain. Repetitive motions or poor neck/head posture that place the neck muscles under constant strain may also pull upon a sensitive membrane known as the dura mater. The dura mater envelops the brain, and at the base of the skull, it lies in close proximity to small muscles such as the RCPM muscle. When these muscles go into spasm, the dura mater gets tugged – and it reacts by sending pain messages into the head.
Cervicogenic headaches are another kind of neck-related head pain. These headaches involve the topmost three vertebrae of the neck. Some cervicogenic headaches are caused by concussions or arthritis, but work-related strain is another potential trigger. People who typically droop their heads downward for many hours a day (hairdressers, long-haul drivers, smartphone addicts, etc.) are prone to these headaches.
Our Physical Therapist Can Provide Natural Headache Pain Relief
Drugs can’t do much more than offer pain relief for an isolated headache, which isn’t good enough if you suffer from chronic headache pain. Our physical therapist will start by evaluating your posture, asking you about your symptoms and medical history, and study X-rays or other diagnostic data from your primary care physician to figure out the biomechanical origins of your chronic headache problem. A detailed physical therapy program can then be formulated to address your specific musculoskeletal issues.
Physical therapy can relieve chronic headaches in a number of ways. Exercises to loosen, lengthen and relax the muscles of the neck can be highly effective at easing the spasms that set off tension headaches. You may also benefit from exercises such as the supra-clavicle release, which strengthens neck muscles weakened by postural imbalances. If the tension in the fascia of the jaw or face is contributing to your neck tension and headaches, a lying-down posture with the relevant trigger points resting on a tennis ball can release that tension.
Exercises are only one aspect of physical therapy to relieve headaches. Our physical therapist may also prescribe massage therapy, ultrasound, and lifestyle recommendations to help you stop sabotaging your neck and head in your everyday activities. This holistic approach can free you from your headache problem – as well as freeing you from a reliance on pain-relieving drugs.
Start Feeling Better – Talk to Our Physical Therapist
If you’re ready to enjoy serious, lasting headache pain relief, it’s time to talk to our physical therapist. Contact PREP Performance Center in Lincoln Square, Irving Park, Lakeview, Horner Park, Roscoe Village & Ravenswood Chicago, IL centers today!