Neck pain is generally caused by a temporary or permanent abnormality in the structures of the neck, upper back, and/or shoulders. Muscle spasms are incredibly common, especially among those who sit at a computer all day or play certain sports. Strains, injuries such as whiplash, herniated discs, and pinched nerves are also common possibilities. Regardless of the cause of pain, though, physical therapy can usually help.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a broad field that is dedicated to the prevention, management, and treatment of both temporary and permanent disabilities. Licensed physical therapists are highly trained in anatomy and kinesiology, the science of movement. They focus on the ways in which the body’s structural components, such as tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints, work together to create physical movement.
Because everyone is different, physical therapy is entirely customized. Your physical therapist will spend the first visit digging into the cause of your pain. Expect a detailed discussion of the nature of your pain, any past injuries or current medical conditions that might have contributed to the pain, and the treatments or management programs you have tried. Your physical therapist will also perform a manual and visual assessment to test your range of motion and identify any abnormalities in your neck or connected structures. The strength and reflexes of your neck and back may also be checked.
Depending on the results of your initial assessment, your physical therapy treatment plan may include many different components. Here are some of the most common.
Immediate Pain Relief
Physical therapists use a wide range of techniques to ease spasms and provide immediate relief. These may be used at the beginning of therapy, and throughout your treatment as needed. They include, but are not limited to:
Heat or cold
Deep tissue massage
Trigger point Acupuncture
Functional movement exercises
Stretching and Strengthening
Stretching is one of the core components of most standard physical therapy treatment protocols. Regardless of the underlying issue that is causing the pain, the body’s natural tendency is for the muscles to tighten up around the damaged area. As the pain gets worse, so does the muscle tightness. Here at Manhattan Physical therapy, we take it one step further by adding a trigger point release prior to the stretching to gain the maximum benefit.
Stretching and loosening the muscles will help ease the pain. Strengthening exercises will help your neck to more easily withstand the forces of gravity and the stressors of everyday life. You will perform a variety of exercises during treatment, and also receive instructions for exercises you can do at home between sessions. To help correct postural issues, you might be told to stand in front of a mirror while exercising.
Although it sounds intimidating, cervical traction is simply a pulley-type system that gently pulls on the neck to encourage lengthening. It can be applied continuously for a period of time, or alternated with rest in short bursts. Cervical traction is most commonly performed during treatment sessions, but your physical therapist may show you how it can be done at home. Using the redcord suspension system, we can unweight the head and upper body, and shut down those tired muscles.
Founded by physical therapy innovator Dr. Joseph Simon, the Manhattan Physical Therapy and Pain Center is a leader in pain relief and injury recovery conveniently located in Midtown New York City. We offer several dedicated programs for different conditions, along with the latest innovations in physical therapy for all. If you are ready for the latest treatments for your pain or injury, we invite you to call us today at (212) 213-3480 to learn how we can help.