Is physiotherapy good for neck pain and if so, what treatment options are available? These are two common questions that a chartered physiotherapist deals with regularly. One of the main challenges associated with the neck is numerous nerves, muscles, and blood vessels located close to one another. Therefore, pain and discomfort are quite common.
When we then consider other variables such as acute injuries, chronic conditions and poor posture, it becomes clear that relief is important. When are neck physiotherapy treatments warranted? What are the ultimate goals of these procedures? What methods may be employed and when might it be wise to avoid this type of intervention? Let us examine each of these important questions in greater detail so that you can make an informed decision.
When is Physiotherapy Treatment for Neck Pain Effective?
As the neck and shoulder girdle are involved with many common movements, this entire region is always at a risk of becoming injured. Therefore, many scenarios could dictate that neck physiotherapy is appropriate. Here are some examples:
- Chronic neck pain that has yet to be diagnosed.
- Those who have recently sustained an injury.
- If you are recovering from surgery.
Is physiotherapy good for neck pain of a chronic nature? Chronic and recurring pain can be caused by several factors. Pinched nerves, poor sleeping habits and simple strains are some common examples. So, obtaining a proper diagnosis is extremely important. If the root of the discomfort can’t be identified, there are still plenty of exercises that can help to strengthen the muscles around the neck and to provide a welcome sense of relief.
Acute injuries are another primary reason why physiotherapy may be required. Scenarios such as whiplash immediately following a car accident or a serious fall can damage the soft connective tissues within the neck and as a result, these injuries are often quite painful. Not only can targeted treatments help to alleviate any discomfort, but physiotherapy for stiff necks will provide a greater degree of mobility. Dry needling, massages and the prescription of specific exercises may represent viable options. The exact choice is based on your symptoms as well as your level of pain.
Post-operative neck pain can likewise present issues. For instance, when two or more vertebrae needed to be fused to treat an underlying condition. Not only can the healing process be uncomfortable, but changes in the position of the neck can result in significant amounts of pain. Therapeutic intervention may provide relief, help to prevent spasms and speed up the time needed to fully recover. These are excellent ways to help ensure that the neck does not stiffen up over time.
Keep in mind that these and other types of targeted physiotherapy may also be used to treat additional conditions that may or may not be directly related to the neck. The best way to learn more about your options is to speak with one of our specialists at the earliest possible convenience.
When Should Physiotherapy Treatments for Neck Pain be Avoided?
As the neck is a rather sensitive portion of the body, there are certain times when these treatments should be avoided. One scenario involves spinal instability. There might be instances when exercises and hands-on therapy may not be recommended. Fractures, compressed discs and spinal degeneration are some potential conditions that could present problems. In these cases, doctors will normally need to stabilise the spine before any type of physiotherapy can be resumed.
Also, some individuals may have recently been diagnosed with additional medical issues. Examples include localised tumours or pressure placed on the neck due to Graves’ disease (a thyroid condition that causes localised swelling). Once again, therapeutic treatments and exercises could make these worse. Therefore, a physiotherapist will always perform an in-depth consultation well in advance.
What Types of Treatment Methods are Available?
Is physiotherapy good for neck pain? Now that we have begun to answer this question, the next step involves what types of treatments a professional may recommend. Let us examine some typical options immediately below. These can be broken down into two primary categories:
- Passive physical therapy
- Active physical therapy
Keep in mind that therapists will base their recommendations on your unique medical history as well as your symptoms
Passive Physical Therapy
Passive physical therapy involves treatments that will require no physical exertion from the patient. Heat treatments, sports massages, electrotherapy, and deep-tissue massages are all common examples. The main goal of this type of information is to reduce levels of perceived pain and to limit any swelling that may be present.
Active Physical Therapy
As you may have guessed, this next approach involves a more proactive approach by the patient. The physiotherapist will recommend that the individual performs certain actions. These are frequently intended to improve flexibility, strengthen nearby muscles and promote better posture. While some can be specifically involved with the neck, there may be other times (such as when an imbalanced walk) that may cause issues. So, options such as targeted exercises programmes and orthotics can be used in combination with the passive methods mentioned in the previous section.
Is Physiotherapy Good for Neck Pain? What Can You Expect?
Now that we understand how neck pain can be treated, it is a good idea to look at what the average individual can expect. First and foremost, it should be mentioned that a professional will often perform neck assessment physiotherapy to better understand what may be causing the discomfort. He or she can then recommend the most effective treatment options.
Some types of pain can be relieved within only a handful of sessions. However, acute injuries or chronic issues may require multiple visits before a noticeable reduction is achieved. There may also be instances when neck pain is worse after physiotherapy. This is normally no cause for concern and the discomfort tends to be transient in nature (particularly if you have been stretching out nearby muscles that may have been stiff for quite some time).
What is the Ultimate Prognosis?
Although neck pain can be caused by numerous different issues, most individuals will experience a profound sense of relief within a short period. Of course, this depends on the condition in question as well as the extent of any injuries or underlying medical issues that may be present. It is likewise important to mention that the best way to avoid future issues is to follow the instructions provided by your physiotherapist. These may involve daily stretching, applying heat or cold, or performing exercises to strengthen nearby muscle groups. He or she will discuss your options in greater detail during the consultation.
Why Wait Any Longer?
Is physiotherapy good for neck pain? In most cases, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes”. Although some types of pain may resolve themselves over time, other individuals can suffer for years without the help of a trained medical professional. If you have recently suffered from an injury or you are grappling with discomfort and stiffness, it is always wise to speak with one of the IMTA registered professionals at PHYSIOMOTION3D.
Offering clinics in both Cork and Waterford, we provide bespoke treatment solutions based on each patient’s personal needs. Owner Peter Keane boasts more than 25 years of experience within this challenging field and our staff is equipped to tackle even the most challenging of tasks. Whether referring to our proprietary Footstep3D gait analysis, deep tissue massages or on-site rehabilitation programmes, we are here to help.
Please take a moment to book an appointment as soon as possible with our physio Waterford specialists. We will be more than happy to discuss your options in greater detail. Is physiotherapy good for neck pain? The answer here is yes; particularly if you choose to work with our cadre of highly trained professionals.