Neck pain is an incredibly common condition in the United States, with between 30-50% of people reporting neck pain each year and up to 70% of people reporting some degree of neck pain throughout their lifetime1,2. Neck pain is commonly caused by injury, such as in motor vehicle accidents or impact sports, or in a variety of workplace settings, such as desk work or manual labor settings.
Like many other body regions, neck pain can be caused from a variety of different sources, such as the muscles, joints and ligaments that make up the neck. Based on the different parts of the neck that can be impacted, people affected by neck pain can report a variety of symptoms. These symptoms include, but aren’t limited to, stiffness and soreness of the neck, inability to turn their head, and numbness, tingling, and shooting pains into their arms. Based on the neck’s location in the body, it is also common that neck pain can lead to headaches and jaw, shoulder or upper back pain.
Neck pain can be treated in a variety of different ways, including physical therapy. Physical therapy intervention for neck pain will differ based on the specific structure of the neck that is impacted. Physical therapy will typically focus on improving neck range of motion, strengthening the muscles of the neck, upper back and shoulder, and education about proper posture and ergonomics at home and work to prevent future reoccurrence of symptoms. Also, physical therapy sessions will typically include manual therapy from a skilled PT to decrease muscular tension and improve neck motion, as well as modalities such as heat, ice or electrical stimulation for decreased pain and muscle tightness.
Haldeman S, Carroll L, Cassidy JD. Findings from the bone and joint decade 2000 to 2010 task force on neck pain and its associated disorders. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine / American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2010;52:424-427
Cohen SP. Epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of neck pain. InMayo Clinic Proceedings 2015 Feb 28 (Vol. 90, No. 2, pp. 284-299). Elsevier.
Brad Michalko, PT, DPT