Pain in your neck is one of the most common kinds of discomfort that is reported to us by our clients. There are many reasons why someone may be feeling pain in their neck. Here, our Manotick physical therapists explain some of the most common treatments and exercises that we use to alleviate neck pain or discomfort.
Neck pain can range from debilitating pain to only a mild discomfort. It is also quite common. Neck pain can last anywhere from hours or day, weeks or even months!
At our Manotick physiotherapy centre, our team pf physical therapists are able to help to identify to root cause of your neck's discomfort and prescribe a range of active physiotherapeutic treatments such as prescribed exercises to help ensure that the pain doesn't return again in the future.
What Are The Causes of Neck Pain?
Neck pain may be caused by a wide range of injuries or other health conditions. Some of these causes of neck pain may include:
- Long-term computer use.
- Strain to your neck and shoulders from lifting heavy objects.
- Poor sleep or commonly sleeping in an uncomfortable position.
- You have just undergone a surgery on your neck and have been left with some pain and stiffness as you recover.
- Injuring your neck in an accident (such as whiplash from a minor car collision).
Neck pain may also be caused by more serious injuries and underlying medical issues such as spinal fractures and tumors that are located in and around your neck area.
Exercises to Treat Neck Pain
When practicing physiotherapy for the relief of neck pain, the physiotherapists at our Manotick clinic will often prescribe specially formulated exercises (often called active physical therapies) to help to alleviate the discomfort of our patients, to strengthen their injuries muscles and to help ensure that a similar injury won't occur in the future.
The following are 5 exercises that we might prescribe to our clients to help treat their neck pain:
Prone Rows or Band Doorknob Rows
This exercise strengthens the muscles around your neck and spine in order to better support them. Lay facedown on a bench with your arms dangling on either side of the bench. Pull upward with your elbows and pull your shoulder blades together, bringing your fists up as if you were rowing a boat.
If you have a resistance band at home, you can also tie it safely to a door handle while the door is closed. Stand away from where you have anchored the band (so that there is no slack) and gently tuck your chin down to your throat with your belly drawn in. Then start with arms outreached in front toward door, then pull elbows and arms back, pinching shoulder blades together behind you, hands ending by your sides/front belly.
Foam Roller 'T' and 'Y' Exercises
This is a different exercise that is designed to improve your posture and to strengthen the muscles that surround the upper back and neck. Firstl, lie lengthwise on a 36" (3') foam roller, from tailbone to head, supported. Start with arms straight up, above chest, then lower down toward the floor (opening to make a 'T' shape), return with control and repeat 10 times. Ensure shoulders do not shrug up to ears and chest remains open.
This can be repeated but with your thumbs leading into a 'Y' shape (45 degrees between 'T' position and directly over your head).
The foam roller permits more stability challenge, while also allowing good chest opening for stretch and spinal stability.
Seated Neck Stretch
This exercise is done seated, as the name suggests. Leaving one arm extended down, ensure you are seated with good posture and then gently use your other arm to pull your head towards the opposite side of your extended arm. You can further modify this exercise with A) a chin nod before and through the stretch; B) chin nod with slight forward tilt (to stretch rear neck muscles); or C) chin nod, with slight head tilt back, to bias the front/side neck muscles for the stretch. Ask your physiotherapist which is best suited to you!
Neck and Shoulder Rolls
This exercise can serve as a warm-up for other exercises. For shoulder rolls, relax your arms and shoulders and "roll" them 10 or more times to help loosen the muscles. For neck or head rolls, tuck your chin down to your chest and begin rolling your head in wide circles, being mindful that you aren't causing yourself any pain when doing so.
This relatively large umbrella of exercises all use the buoyant properties of water to help slowly and safely engage injured muscles to help strengthen them. This helps to take pressure off your neck and spine and can be particularly helpful for when neck pain is accompanied by shoulder or back pain as well.
You always need to wait for a physical therapist's prescription of specific exercises in order to safely engage pained or injured muscles while you are experiencing neck pain. If you are attempt exercises without consulting your physiotherapist, you may further injure yourself.
When Should I Avoid Physiotherapy For Neck Pain?
While in the majority fo cases, physiotherapy will be able to help you to recover from pain or discomfort affecting your neck, there are certain instances where it should be avoided. This is particularly the case if you are experiencing a serious health issue that may causing you pain - including tunors around your neck or a facture in your spine.
Not only will physiotherapy not be able to help you recover, it may even make the issue worse.
Likewise, some people's bodies aren't up to the demands of physiotherapy and would not tolerate it, until their acute inflammation and pain are reduced, and the body ready for progressive care.
In all of these cases, ask your physician about ways of alleviating your neck pain, or addressing its root cause, in other ways.