Neck Pain: How Physical Therapy Can Help

Neck pain, also known as cervicalgia, is a common ailment. Approximately 25%-33% of the American population and 330 million people globally experience neck pain over their lifetimes. Thankfully, for the majority of those suffering from neck pain, conservative treatment by a Physical Therapist can restore movement and provide pain relief.

What are some common causes of neck pain?

Poor sitting, standing and/or sleeping posture
Repetitive work that requires the arms lifted above the shoulders
Sitting or standing too long in same position working at computer or other equipment
Muscular tightness in the neck and/or upper back
Vehicular accidents, falls and sports-related injuries
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)
Pinched nerves
Spinal disc herniation (Bulging Disc)
Spinal stenosis

When should I be concerned about neck pain?

Always seek immediate medical care for severe neck pain due to injuries such as falls, sports injuries, car accidents and diving accidents. Some injuries to the neck can damage the central nervous system. This kind of trauma can be very dangerous and cause permanent damage, therefore timely emergency care is vital. It is better to be safe than sorry.

“If you suspect someone in your environment has a severe neck injury of any kind, you should immobilize their spine and call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to move them unless doing so is the only way to save their life.” (

Even if your pain is not severe, other red flags that indicate you need medical attention may include:

Changes in vision
Feeling unusual, strange pain
Pain that persists for several days
Pain that continues to worsen
Pain or numbness that spreads down arms or legs or makes limbs feel heavy
Headache, dizziness, tingling, numbness, weakness or nausea
Remember, pain is a warning sign. It is a medical condition. Pain is there to tell you something is wrong. Listen to your body. When in doubt, have it checked out.

How can Physical Therapy help neck pain?

Thankfully, most neck pain does not have a significant, serious cause. The vast majority of patients experiencing neck pain can get relief from conservative treatments by a Physical Therapist. But, if surgery or other more intensive medical treatment is unavoidable, Physical Therapy can also be used post-op to allow quicker recovery of mobility, range-of-motion and strength.

For common neck pain, one of the first modalities we give our patients is applying a heat wrap that can be wrapped completely around the neck for the first 10 minutes. Your reflexes, strength and other possible sources of pain will be evaluated. Your Physical Therapist will also check how well your joints function and identify any limitations. Then, stretching exercises are typically implemented right away to be done in clinic and at home to relieve muscle tension. Adding strengthening exercises aids in the support of the head, neck and vertebrae to help reduce future pain and immobility. And, at Elite, our Physical Therapists are hands-on using manual therapy to provide relief at your very first appointment. We also offer Neck Traction Therapy, Interferential Current Therapy and Dry-needing for faster relief. Lastly, we typically end the visit with 10 minutes of icing while you rest.

If you have had a neck injury that has required surgery and/or prolonged bracing, your Physical Therapist can work with your physician to ease you into mobility, range-of-motion and strengthening therapy as directed. Any kind of spinal injury can be extremely painful, so our team will be mindful of your pain as they safely push you past your perceived limits to speed recovery. Our goal is to get you to Feel Better Faster.

Pain should not be a way of life. It is time to take care of yourself. To request an appointment, click here for Elite Relief, or call directly to one of our three locations during regular business hours:

Cool Springs: 615-224-9810
Shelbyville: 931-684-0027
Spring Hill: 931-489-2022


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