Do I Need Hands-On Physical Therapy For My Neck Pain?
Updated: Mar 7
In the course of 3 months, approximately 15% of adults will have neck pain that lasts at least one full day. Neck pain can develop suddenly, as with a fall or a traumatic event, or it may develop slowly over time such as from years of poor posture or wear and tear with repetitive work or sport. Neck pain may be caused by arthritis, disc degeneration, narrowing of the spinal canal, muscle inflammation, strain, or trauma. In rare cases, an underlying medical condition may cause neck pain. How do you know who to seek out care from to alleviate your neck pain?
Ongoing research has shown that physical therapy is a better treatment than surgery or pain medication for relieving most cases of neck pain. Follow this at-home assessment to see if hands-on physical therapy may help you.
Self-Assessment for Neck Pain
Are you experiencing one of the following?
Chronic undiagnosed neck pain (neck pain for longer than 6 months)
Traumatic injury from sports, a car accident, or a work accident
Recovering from cervical spine surgery
Is your pain constant or intermittent?
Does your pain radiate down the arm?
Do you have headaches on a regular basis?
Is your pain greater than 3/10 consistently?
Is your pain interfering with your work, social activities, or ability to do daily activities?
Are you able to sit at your desk, at the table, or while reading and look down to perform activities without significant pain?
Are you able to reach overhead without pain?
Do you wake with neck symptoms at night or every morning?
Results: If you answered yes to more than 3 of the above questions seek out physical therapy. If you don't believe you need therapy, try these at-home pain management options.
Tips for managing neck pain at home:
Breathing: Most of the time when we have pain, our protective strategy is to take short shallow breaths. Often times with neck pain, we hold tension in the neck and shoulders. Lie on a mat and breath, elongating your breath and feeling the ribs expand trying to release tension in the neck and shoulders.
Stretch: Try lying on a foam roller lengthwise (or rolling a few beach towels). Open your arms down by your side, keeping the spine neutral and the shoulders back. You will feel a stretch in your chest. This stretch helps to keep the chest open and shoulders back taking the strain off of the neck
About the Author: Francesca Durant
Co-owner of Durant Physical Therapy and Centered Body Pilates, Francesca Durant is an experienced physical therapist and Pilates professional with specialized training in pelvic health from Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute.
Could you benefit from a physical therapy assessment?
Durant Physical Therapy is accepting new patients in Glastonbury, CT. Call 860-430-2344 now to schedule a health assessment!