If you suffer from regular neck pain, you probably know by now that neck pain or stiffness can affect your life in many different ways. New research has shown that a combination of joint and muscle treatment performed by your physical therapist and some specific strengthening exercises are an effective way to eliminate your neck symptoms. The good news is that there is a way to relieve your pain and keep it away.
What should you do when you suffer neck pain or stiffness? Rest?
Unfortunately rest does not help most neck pain sufferers. In fact, research has shown that patients who have been hospitalized for more than one week are more likely to experience neck pain when discharged. The muscle weakness that developed while resting as well as loosing cervical mobility was thought to be the primary reason for the pain.
Ice or Heat?
In most cases, we recommend avoiding heat (and heat rubs) in the first 48 hours of injury. The heat encourages bleeding, which could be detrimental if used too early. In traumatic injuries, such as whiplash, ice should help reduce your pain, swelling and spasm. In most cases, heat packs used for 20 minutes a few a days, after the 48 hour period has passed, should help your muscles relax and soothe your neck pain. Never use heat or ice over heat rubs it can cause serious burns.
Should you use a neck collar?
A neck collar is not recommended in most non-traumatic injuries as the collar encourages muscle weakness. However, in severe neck spasm conditions such as wry neck or whiplash, a collar is useful in the first week to assist with muscle relaxation.
Posture support braces have improved over the years with new designs being very effective in building awareness of what the correct posture actually is. This is great for teenagers, the elderly or those using computers.
What medication should you use?
Your doctor or pharmacist may recommend pain relief in the form of paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory. Please seek their professional advice as certain drugs can interfere with other health conditions, especially asthma.
When should you commence Physical Therapy?
If you are in severe pain or you cannot move your neck through its normal range, it is best to commence treatment straight away. Your physical therapist has numerous tricks that can help to quickly relieve your pain and muscle spasm. Long-term stiffness can be treated effectively at anytime. If you are not sure what to do, please call us for advice. We'll happily guide you in your time of need.
What if you do nothing?
Research tells us that symptoms lasting longer than three months become habitual and are much harder to solve. The sooner you get on top of your symptoms the better your outcome.
What about Arthritis?
Neck joints can prematurely become arthritic through neglect. Beside pain, loosing range of motion becomes a problem which affects all daily activity including driving. The good news is that you can do something about slowing down the deterioration even if it's already present on an x-ray.
There are three main reasons why you develop neck arthritis:
- Previous trauma. e.g. whiplash (traumatic), poor posture (cumulative micro-injuries)
- Stiff joints (lack of movement diminishes joint nutrition)
- Loose joints (excessive sloppiness causes joint damage through poor control)
Has neck treatment changed over the years?
Yes. Researchers are constantly finding new ways to manage your neck pain. Decompression therapy, when used correctly, can resolve or avoid many neck surgeries. The exercises and techniques we now utilize differ from what we did even a few months ago.
What results should you expect from therapy?
Not only will we diagnose the cause of your neck pain or headaches, we will also help to:
- Relieve your pain quicker via specific hands-on techniques, exercises and electrotherapy
- Improve your posture and cope better with your pain using proven strategies and tips
- Get you back to work or play quicker through faster healing rates.
- Loosen or strengthen your neck with individually prescribed exercises
- Prevent future bouts of neck pain or headaches via our non invasive, drug free pain management approach
Which pillow is right for you?
The correct pillow is also vital. If you are waking throughout the night or in the morning with a stiff neck it may be that it's actually your pillow and not your neck that is the cause. Shoulder, shoulder blade, & thoracic spine also have tremendous influence on neck think about it. You could be suffering needlessly. Any pain is not sign of old age & pain is not normal.
Please use our expert advice to guide you out of pain quicker and for a lot longer. If you have any questions regarding your neck pain, headaches (or any other condition), please call us to discuss your problem. You'll find our friendly staff happy to point you in the right direction.