Is Physical Therapy Not Helping Neck Pain?
Physical therapy (PT) is one of the most successful conservative treatments for neck pain. It combines hands-on care, patient education and prescribed movement to reduce your discomfort by improving mobility, strength, flexibility and function in your neck muscles as well as other parts of your body.
If the symptoms of neck pain persist for more than four to six weeks, your therapist may suggest more invasive treatments like spinal injections. Furthermore, it’s wise to visit your doctor for a full evaluation as well.
Your physical therapist (PT) will conduct a full physical examination and assessment, including measuring your range of motion (ROM). This helps them pinpoint the source of your discomfort and suggest treatments.
The therapist may take your medical history and ask questions about symptoms, range of motion, sleeping patterns and any underlying issues that could be contributing to the issue. They may also conduct a neurological screen that checks reflexes and other elements that could contribute to neck or back pain.
Neck pain is usually due to mechanical causes. These include a tight or stiff neck, poor posture and muscle weakness or imbalance in your supporting muscles.
Many of these conditions respond to manual therapies such as mobilization and manipulation. These gentle yet firm pressures help lubricate joints, reduce stiffness, and relax muscle spasm – which could otherwise lead to additional discomfort if left unchecked.
Traction: Your therapist can apply traction devices to create a “pull” that stretches the neck and relaxes muscles. This can be done continuously or intermittently, with short bursts of pulling followed by rest periods.
Therapists can place a strap or soft collar around your neck to restrict movements that might increase pain and inflammation. These devices may provide temporary comfort, provided they are used correctly and only during activity.
Your therapist can also suggest other techniques to reduce your pain, such as using ice and heat. Ice helps relax your neck while heat soothes sore muscles. Both treatments are safe and effective; they should be recommended by your therapist.
At the start of physical therapy, your therapist will prescribe stretches and exercises for you to do on your own. These could include shoulder rolls, head and neck rolls, or chin tucks – great ways to warm up the neck and shoulders before doing other exercises.
At each session, your therapist will instruct you on proper stretching and strengthening methods to keep your neck strong and flexible. They may also show you how to modify movements for improved posture at home or work – helping prevent injuries to the area in the future and relieving pain from associated with such discomfort.