For neck pain in Somerville, we also recommend a conservative approach that features physical therapy
In our last blog, we discussed just how common low back pain is in the general population and showed you why a conservative (non-surgical) approach is the best way to treat the condition. But pain can arise in other parts of the spine, too, and the neck is another region that can be affected for various reasons. Neck pain in Somerville may not be quite as common as back pain, but many people experience it, and the most effective approach for these patients is once again conservative care and physical therapy.
No matter how you slice it, neck pain is clearly a problem in the general population. It’s considered the third most common cause of chronic pain—after back pain and headaches—and at any given point in time, its prevalence is about 12% in females and 9% in males. The overall prevalence of neck pain in today’s working population is approximately 45%, which is about half that of back pain. One way to interpret this is for every two people that have back pain, about one will have neck pain.
Most cases of neck pain are due to a muscle strain or sprain of tendons or ligaments in the neck or areas that support the neck, though other issues may also be responsible. Some of the most common causes of neck pain include sleeping on your neck wrong, sitting or standing for prolonged periods with bad posture—especially from leaning over too much—spending too much time performing repetitive movements, and carrying a heavy backpack, purse or briefcase. Neck pain can also develop from conditions like osteoarthritis, a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, or from sudden injuries that may cause whiplash or other problems in the neck.
The main symptoms include pain that is often worsened by holding or lifting your head in place for long periods, muscle tightness and spasms, decreased ability to move your head and headaches. For some people, neck pain is also accompanied by upper back or shoulder pain, and pain in the shoulder may actually be referred from the neck.
If you’re experiencing neck pain in Somerville, just as with back pain, physical therapy is the best way to address the pain and increase your mobility. Some of the treatments we use will be similar to those used for back pain, while others are more specific to pain in the upper region of the spine. As always, our physical therapists will diagnose your condition and attempt to determine what may be responsible for the pain, and then create a customized treatment program that will usually consist of the following:
- Posture training: we will educate you on how use proper posture at all times when sitting and standing: make sure your shoulders are in a straight line over your hips, and ears are in a straight line over your shoulders
- Stretching exercises: though it may be difficult painful, stretching is important to improve the range of motion of the neck; one simple stretch is to tilt your head from the left to right in slow, smooth movements and hold it for 20 seconds
- Ice and heat: we will explain when it is appropriate to use each of these
- Strengthening exercises: it’s also important to strengthen the muscles in your arms, upper back, and other areas of the body that support the neck
- Functional mobility: your physical therapist will work to address any activities made more difficult due to neck pain by specific training exercises
- Massage: if tight or sore muscles are considered to be a contributing factor to your neck pain, your physical therapist will likely massage this area with the appropriate form of massage
With proper treatment, most cases of neck pain in Somerville will resolve within a few weeks. So if you’re experiencing any neck-related issues, we can help assess your condition and figure out the best way to deal with it. For more information on neck pain, click here. To schedule an appointment, contact Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Edison, Somerville, Union and Woodbridge, NJ at 908-393-9877.