Neck pain is one of the most common kinds of discomfort reported by our Orleans clients. There are a whole range of reasons why someone may be feeling discomfort or pain in their neck, including injuries, underlying health issues and poor posture. Here, our Orleans physiotherapists explain some of the common treatments and exercises used to alleviate neck pain.
Neck pain can range from mild discomfort to debilitation pain. Neck pain is very common and can last hours, days or even weeks. At Motion Works Physiotherapy Orleans, our team of physiotherapists are able to help identify the cause of your neck's discomfort and prescribe a variety of active physiotherapist like exercises to ensure your pain doesn't arise in the future.
What Are The Causes of Neck Pain?
Neck pain can be caused by a variety of health conditions or injuries. Some of the causes for your neck pain may include:
- Long-term computer use.
- 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).
- Strain to your neck and shoulders from lifting heavy objects.
Neck pain can also be caused by more serious injuries or underlying medical issues, like spinal fractures or tumors located in the neck area.
Exercises to Treat Neck Pain
When practicing physiotherapy with the intention of relieving neck pain, our physical therapists at Motion Works Physiotherapy Orleans will often prescribe exercises (also called active physiotherapy) to our clients in order to help alleviate their discomfort, strengthen their injures muscles and other tissues, and help to ensure that the injury won't arise again in the future.
The following are 5 exercises that we might prescribe to our clients to help treat their neck pain:
Foam Roller 'T' and 'Y' Exercises
Another exercise designed to improve posture, and strengthen the muscles surrounding your upper back and neck, is to 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.
Neck and Shoulder Rolls
These exercises can work as a warm-up for others.
When performing shoulder rolls, relax your arms and shoulders and "roll" them 10 times or more to help loosen up your muscles. When performing head rolls, tuck your chin to your chest and start rolling your head in wide circles. Make sure you aren't causing yourself any pain as you do so.
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!
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.
Respectively, if you have a resistance band at home, you can tie it safely to a closed door's doorknob. Stand away from the anchor (so that no slack in band), with chin tucked gently to throat, shoulders back, and 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.
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 should always wait for a physiotherapist's prescription of specific exercises before engaging injured or pained muscles when experiencing neck pain. Attempting exercises without consulting your physical therapist may result in further injury or pain.
When Should I Avoid Physiotherapy For Neck Pain?
While in many, many cases, physical therapy can help you recover from pain in your neck, there are certain instances where it should be avoided. This is particularly the case when you are suffering from a severe health issue that may be causing you pain like a fractured spine or a tumor around your neck. 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, speak with your physician about ways of alleviating your neck pain, or addressing its root cause, in other ways.