What a pain in the neck! There is probably a reason that this phrase is used to describe things that bother or annoy you. Why not “what a pain in the knee!”? Well, it might be because neck pain can affect so many of your daily activities, so it’s pretty aggravating. It’s also pretty common, so pretty much anyone can relate to it on some level. Let’s take a look at common neck pain symptoms, common causes, some anatomy, and some ways physical therapy can help.
Neck Pain Facts:
Common Causes of Neck Pain:
In medicine, the neck is called the cervical spine. It consists of seven neck bones, or vertebrae. Between each vertebra is a disc. The discs act as separation and cushion between the vertebrae.
Your neck also has lots of joints, ligaments, and muscles that hold things together and allow for movement of your neck.
Ok, great, but can physical therapy help? Good news! Yes! Physical therapy can help with neck pain. But you may say, “I’ve tried all the neck stretches, I’ve used heat on it, and I’ve taken ibuprofen and tylenol and I’m still having pain. What else could there be to try?” Well, there are lots of other things that physical therapy can do for people who are experiencing neck pain. What those things are depends heavily on the initial evaluation and the factors the therapist identifies that might be contributing to your neck pain. Yes, your neck hurts, but maybe you have a stiff upper back or stiff shoulders in addition to a stiff neck and working to stretch your upper back and shoulders could help improve the symptoms in your neck. Maybe your shoulders and neck have gotten a little weak or deconditioned and strengthening is what you need to help decrease your pain. Maybe you have a lot of tension that just won’t let go and manual therapy and/or dry needling will help in reducing symptoms and allow us to get to the root cause of why you keep getting tight. It depends on each individual’s situation, and no two people are alike, so it really can make a difference to get looked at by a physical therapist to get an individualized treatment plan.