Physical Therapy Month: Fixing What Ails You — Neck Pain – Its Possible Causes & Treatments
You’ve probably heard the phrase “you’d lose your head if it weren’t attached” – well, luckily our heads are attached, with our necks doing the heavy lifting. Yet your neck has a thankless (and full-time) job, and it’s no wonder that neck pain is a common complaint. We give you some common causes as well as a general treatment plan to keep you from having your discomfort become a real pain in the neck!
Your neck is a vital and complex structure. For a very general outline: your neck goes from your collarbone and up to your jaw, and is composed of vertebrae connected to the rest of your spine, muscles, and plenty of nerves (as well as internal structures like your esophagus, trachea, spinal cord, etc.).
The Pain: Neck pain is very common. You may experience mild, to moderate or more severe neck pain. You may also notice stiffness or decreased range-of-motion.
The Problem: Most neck pain results from normal activities of (modern) living. Any activity that results in a position being held for a sustained period of time can irritate your neck and cause discomfort. Working on a computer, using a tablet or smart phone, reading, and driving are all activities that can cause neck pain. Even something as simple as a home-improvement project that requires you to look up repeatedly or for long stretches of time can irritate your neck. Some career fields, such as skilled trades, can cause neck pain due to having to look up frequently and for a sustained period. Even sleeping in an unusual position can cause neck discomfort.
At home: You can rest and apply ice to decrease irritation. You may also experiment with heat if your neck pain has lasted longer than several days. Generally, ice is good for reducing inflammation, while heat is better for easing tight muscles. Take regular breaks from electronic devices, work, or other activities that may worsen neck pain.
What to Watch For: Pay attention to pain at rest, pain that interrupts sleep or makes it hard to fall asleep, pain that doesn’t improve or worsens, severe pain, range-of-motion limitations, and any symptoms persisting beyond about a week (7-10 days).
Seeking a Professional: If it’s time to call in the pros, do yourself a favor and seek a qualified physical therapist. You can schedule an exam visit with a physical therapist just like you would with your regular physician; the physical therapist will work with your family doctor and insurance company if a referral or more visits are needed. The physical therapist will assess your neck pain and any contributing factors, and design a custom treatment plan. S/he is an expert in musculoskeletal issues and injuries and a great resource for both helping heal your current neck pain and prevent future injury.
Do you have a big pain in the neck that’s affecting your life? Call Body One Physical Therapy today and let one of our trained physical therapists get you back on the road to health! We’re locally-owned with four locations serving Central Indiana: North Indianapolis, South Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. Don’t accept pain as a normal part of your life – call Body One today and take the first step toward living your best life.