Neck pain is a common issue that affects millions of people around the world. It can be caused by a variety of factors and can be an uncomfortable, sometimes debilitating experience that can range from a dull ache to a sharp pain. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most effective ways to manage and reduce your neck pain.
Causes of Neck Pain
- Poor postural alignment of the neck
- Overload such as lifting something too heavy
- Overuse and repetitive pulling, pushing and lifting activities
- Trauma, falls and ICBC-related accidents
- Sports Injuries
- Decreased muscle flexibility and weak neck stability strength
- Osteoarthritic changes of the neck
- Nerve compression (pinched nerve)
Symptoms of Neck Pain
It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of neck pain so that you can get the correct treatment as soon as possible. The common symptoms associated with neck pain may include the following:
- Pain in the neck and shoulders
- Numbness and tingling
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to consult with your physiotherapist as soon as possible to determine the cause of your neck pain and find an effective treatment plan.
Common Conditions That Cause Neck Pain
A muscle strain is an injury that occurs when a muscle has been stretched or contracted beyond its normal limit. This can happen suddenly or gradually over time. Muscle strains are usually caused by overuse or excessive force on the muscles or by poor posture and ergonomics. When muscles in the neck are strained, it can lead to tension and tightness in the area and limit the range of motion of the head and neck.
Joint sprains causes muscles, tendons and joint structures to stretch beyond their normal range of motion, leading to micro-tears. This results in inflammation and swelling in the joint, that can cause severe neck pain. A common joint sprain for the neck is whiplash.
A bulging disc in the neck can cause nerve compression, which may result in radiating pain, tingling and numbness down the arm and into the hand.
Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage between bones begins to decrease due to increased loading and ‘wear and tear ‘on the joint structures. This causes friction between bones and can result in pain and stiffness. The most common cause of osteoarthritis in the neck is age-related deterioration.
A pinched nerve occurs when there is tension or pressure on the nerve due to inflammation, swelling or faulty joint/bony alignment. This pressure restricts blood flow and oxygen delivery, which can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain.
The most common cause of a pinched nerve is repetitive movements or activities that strain your neck muscles e.g. (carrying heavy objects) and poor posture namely, sitting for long periods of time with your neck and back in a poor postural position.
Cervical spondylosis is the degeneration of the bones and discs in the neck. Spondylosis causes neck pain because it leads to inflammation in the structures of the neck such as ligaments, tendons, muscles, joints or nerves.
Spinal stenosis happens when the joint spaces in the spine narrow and create pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. The most common cause of spinal stenosis is as we age our bones start to wear down over time. Other causes of spinal stenosis include injuries such as whiplash or car accidents and conditions such as arthritis.
When Should I See a Physiotherapist?
If your neck pain has been present for over 3-5 days without any improvement or if it has become progressively worse, then it is recommended that you see a physiotherapist. Other warning signs include neck pain that is associated with tingling or numbness in the arms or hands and headaches. If any of these symptoms apply to you, the quicker you see a physiotherapist, the sooner the pain can be alleviated.
Treatments for Neck Pain
Manual therapy uses massage techniques to decrease muscle tension and restore normal movement patterns in the affected area. Additionally, manual therapists use joint mobilizations as well as exercise therapy (stretching & strengthening) to restore normal range of motion in the affected area. This helps to reduce stiffness and pain as well as to increase circulation which increases the rate and quality of healing.
Manual therapy corrects postural issues such as forward head posture or rounded shoulders, which can be the cause of increased stress on the neck. By correcting postural imbalances through specific core stabilizing and strengthening exercises, manual therapists can help to reduce neck pain and prevent any long-term problems.
Spinal mobilization helps to reduce neck pain because it improves neck mobility and range of motion. By improving mobility in your neck through spinal mobilization, you can reduce this tension and alleviate neck pain.
Massage therapy is an effective way to manage your neck pain. Through techniques such as trigger point release, massage therapists can target knots in your muscles that may be contributing to your discomfort and reduce tension overall. Massage therapy results in improved posture, increased flexibility/mobility, improved blood circulation and decreased pain and stress levels.
Acupuncture & IMS
Both acupuncture and IMS can be used effectively to treat neck pain caused by joint sprain or muscle strain, as well as chronic conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia.
Laser & Ultrasound
Laser and ultrasound therapy has been shown to have several benefits when it comes to treating neck pain. They help to reduce pain and inflammation by promoting blood flow and helping to increase the speed and quality of healing after an injury or surgery.
By providing support while allowing full range of motion, this therapeutic method can help reduce inflammation and swelling, improve range of motion and flexibility.
Spinal decompression therapy is a treatment option for people with chronic neck pain, joint sprains, bulging discs, osteoarthritis, pinched nerves, spondylosis, and spinal stenosis. Spinal Decompression creates a vacuum effect which helps to relieve pressure on the bulging discs, as well as reduce inflammation of the spinal joints. This results in reduced pain and an increase it the rate of healing.
Customized Exercise Rehabilitation - or Exercise Therapy
Customized exercise programs have several benefits when it comes to relieving neck pain including:
- They are tailored specifically to your individual needs and abilities, so they work best for you;
- They target specific areas of the body which help to alleviate pain.
- The exercises can be done at home using the computer exercise program with pictures and video sent to you by email
- They help to stabilize and build strength in the muscles around the neck, improve postural stability and prevent the recurrence of injury
- A customized exercise program helps to reduce stress levels which can contribute to chronic neck pain.
Products for Neck Pain Relief
By delivering a mild electrical current to the muscles in the neck area, Tens helps to reduce tension and inflammation. Tens has been shown to be an effective short-term solution for acute neck pain.
Foam rollers are a great way to relieve neck pain. They are easy to use and can reduce neck /back tension and improve flexibility.
Fisiocrem cream contains natural herbs and essential oils known for their capabilities in comforting and soothing muscular aches and decreasing pain, inflammation and swelling.
Theraband is a graded resistance band that can be used to condition the neck, back and shoulder muscles. It works by applying light resistance to the muscles of the neck, back /shoulder to strengthen them and provide increased stability. Unlike heavier weights which can cause strain. Theraband is designed to be light enough so that you can start using it at an early stage of your treatment.
A Posture Perfector is used to correct and maintain your upper back throughout the day in a good postural position, which relieves stress on the muscles and joints Your Physiotherapist may prescribe this for a certain length of time each day.
A massage stick is an excellent tool for relieving neck pain. It can help to reduce tension in the muscles, break up knots, and increase blood flow for improved mobility. By using the stick to target different areas of the neck, you can focus on specific areas of neck discomfort without straining your hands.
Moist Heat Pack
Moist Heat Packs are a great way to provide soothing relief for neck pain. They can be used for safe and gentle heated therapy, which helps to relax tight muscles, increase circulation and decrease joint pain.
A Tracuball is a product designed to help with neck pain and tension. When used correctly, it helps to reduce stress on the spine/ neck muscles and create an overall sense of relaxation and wellbeing. Tracuball provides compression, muscle release and is easy to use and small enough to fit into any bag or purse.
Neck pain is a common condition that can impact your daily life. Whether you’re looking for ways to prevent future neck pain or seeking relief for ongoing neck pain & discomfort, a physiotherapist can help. Physiotherapy utilizes a wide range of techniques to manage neck pain by targeting the source of pain and strengthening the supporting muscles to improve mobility and function. Don’t let neck pain hold you back – seek help today.