Am I a pain in the neck or do I have neck pain?
How many times have you shrugged off that twinge of pain in your neck, stiffness with turning your head or even tension headache as just something that happens? What we find in physical therapy is that these occasional issues often times end up being the beginning signs of what will end up as chronic pain in the neck. That occasional pain can lead to loss of range of motion, stabbing pain in the shoulder, numbness/tingling in the hand, weakness and chronic headaches, even migraines.
We see neck pain associated with trauma sustained in car accidents or sports injuries. More and more, we are seeing people with posture related neck pain – that typical office worker so into their work that they are slumped forward, head in the computer, shoulders rounded or that person commuting to work stuck in traffic head off the headrest…do any of these scenarios ring a bell?
If I don’t address my neck pain/headache issues early enough, what might happen?
The sooner you address these seemingly nagging benign issues the better. They are indication that something is not happy. Your neck is made up of a series of vertebral bodies between which lie discs and out from which come your nerves. That stabbing pain in your neck or upper back and even the shoulder can be indication that a nerve is being pinched or that a disc is being compressed. The sooner you take care of these issues, the better you avoid long term degenerative changes.
Untreated neck pain can lead to not being able to turn your head to look behind you, not being able to look up as you place a dish on a shelf. It can also lead to issues of pain or weakness in the shoulder, arm and even hand. Lack of motion in the neck can also figure into balance and vertigo type symptoms.
The big picture: if you have pain in your neck or headaches, go see a physical therapist before your symptoms get out of control.
What can physical therapy do to help?
Great question. Your physical therapist will perform a detailed evaluation including your history and then move on to assess your posture, flexibility (range of motion), mobility (are your joints moving efficiently?), strength, reflexes and other tests to determine the main cause of your neck pain, stiffness and/or headaches. From this information, your therapist will develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Treatment may include hands on work to improve your motion, education to improve your posture and exercise to improve your strength.
Treat yourself and your neck to physical therapy. Call Real Rehab and schedule an appointment before your neck pain becomes more than just a little twinge.