Physical Therapy Treatments For Neck Pain Relief

Most physical therapy programs for neck pain involve the application of various treatments and techniques to relieve pain and stiffness in the neck. Physical therapy is considered one of the most effective treatments for chronic neck pain relief. It includes multiple exercises involving stretching or strengthening exercises to treat neck pain. 

Causes of neck pain

Neck pain may be caused due to a lot of reasons. Some common causes of neck pain include the following:

  • Aging – As you age, natural wear and tear may cause certain parts of your cervical spine to deteriorate or degenerate, causing pain. Certain degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis (the wearing down of the joint cartilage) and spinal stenosis (narrowing down of the spaces of your spine) can cause neck pain. 
  • Physical strain – Overusing your neck muscles during repetitive or strenuous activities can cause stiffness or pain. Poor posture, weak abdominal muscles, and heavier body weight can affect the alignment of your spine and contribute to neck pain. 
  • Injury – Any trauma or any other injuries can cause damage to your disks, muscles, ligaments, vertebral joints, and the nerve roots in the spinal cord can lead to neck pain. Whiplash during automobile accidents is a common injury that may cause neck pain. 
  • Mental stress – Tightening your neck muscles because you are stressed can cause neck pain and stiffness. When stressed or agitated, many people who tighten these muscles don’t realize they do it until their neck starts hurting. Mental stress can cause various problems, which ultimately lead to neck pain. 

Physical Therapy Methods

There are usually two types of physical therapy methods for the treatment of chronic neck pain:

  • Passive Physical Therapy – Passive physical therapy treatment refers to the treatments applied without effort from the patient. The main aim behind passive physical therapy is to provide you relief from pain and swelling. There are different methods of passive physical therapy treatment, such as ice therapy, heat therapy, electrotherapy, ultrasound, and many others. 
  • Active Physical Therapy – Active physical therapy usually leads to the patient’s involvement in moving their body through various stretches or exercises. It leads to the improvement of strength and flexibility of the neck, which helps reduce the pain in the muscles around the neck, and thus you can maintain good posture. 

Types of Passive Physical Therapy

Some types of passive physical therapy involve the following:

  • Ice Or Hot Therapy – Ice or hot therapy can be applied to reduce the pain and swelling in the body. Heat therapy leads to increasing the flow of blood and loosening stiff muscles. In some cases, heat and cold therapy may be alternated depending on the patient’s injury or preferences. 
  • Massage Therapy: Massage therapy may help loosen and relax the muscles, which helps reduce pain and stiffness. While providing treatment for neck pain, it is essential to massage the back and the surrounding areas of the body, including the back and the shoulder. 
  • Electrotherapy – This therapy uses a device for sending mild electric current using wires to the injured or painful areas. There are various types of electrotherapy for different purposes, which involves altering the signals of pain, stimulating the contraction of muscles, promoting healing of the tissues, and sending medicine to provide you relief through the skin. 

Types Of Active Physical Therapy

Some of the most common active physical therapy for reducing neck pain involves the following:

  • Neck Stretches And Exercises – Some stretches and exercises may be prescribed to train the muscles attached directly to the cervical spine. Chin tuck is a common neck exercise involving looking forward and gently pulling the chin straight back. 
  • Core And Back Strengthening – Your back and core muscles around the neck also benefit from the strengthening exercise to improve the neck’s strength and flexibility. In addition, these muscles also provide support to the spine to improve posture. 
  • Aquatic Exercise – Some exercises are performed in a pool. The buoyancy of the water can take the pressure out of the spinal cord and allow the muscles to keep working. But aerobic exercises are usually not recommended in the case of severe neck pain. 

When To See A Doctor?

If your neck pain persists for several days, you need to seek help from a professional healthcare provider. You must speak to a doctor about your:

  • Have specific other symptoms other than pain or stiffness.
  • Have pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in your legs or arms.
  • Have sudden severe pain after a fall or injury

A physical therapist can also be beneficial in providing the proper treatment after adequately diagnosing the cause of your neck pain or discomfort. A trained and experienced physical therapist can use various techniques and therapies to adequately treat pain and discomfort.