Young man receiving physical therapy after sport injury

Physical Therapy for Neck and Back Pain

How Physical Therapy Can Help Neck and Back Pain

Dealing with back and neck pains can be detrimental to your quality of life, especially when the pain is constant. More severe pain can be the cause of missing work or school, not being able to partake in hobbies or activities, or missing social events with friends and family. 

If the pain persists without proper treatment or attention, your activity levels can drop. Your mental, emotional, and physical health can also begin to deteriorate in other ways, aside from the pain you feel from your back or neck. 

Back and neck pain can stem from an old injury that was never properly treated and healed, being in a car accident, poor posture, repetitive stress injury, an undiagnosed condition, or from carrying an excess of weight. Whatever the cause is, it shouldn’t be overlooked or ignored, because it can get worse and lead to other health complications. 

Once you have your doctor examine and diagnose your pain, it’s important to work with them to find out a treatment plan to help heal your condition and alleviate pain. One effective method as part of a treatment plan is physical therapy. 

Exercise and strengthen

Physical therapy involves strengthening, stretching and restoring normal function to your back or neck. Your physical therapist can use different types of manipulations to accomplish this, including showing you simple exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles that support your back and neck muscles. 

Often you will be asked to do these exercises a few times a week at home as well, in order to help you get your full range of motion back. Your physical therapist may show you the proper way to do these exercises by having you stand in front of a mirror, so you know if there’s anything you’re doing wrong and so that you can do them effectively while at home. 

Fix your posture

Poor posture can cause back and neck pain as well as injury over time, so learning what proper posture is and doing the right movements and exercises to correct poor posture is so important when trying to lessen the pain. A mirror comes in handy here again, so you can see exactly how you need to fix your posture when standing or sitting. 

If you have a limited range of motion because of pain, loosening your muscles and working on your posture is even more important when it comes to healing.  

Do your best to stand and sit up straight, give your lower back support when sitting, and avoid straining your neck when standing. Try to avoid sitting for long periods of time, but if you must, due to work or other reasons, stand up every one or two hours and stretch for five to 10 minutes. Your physical therapist can show you the right stretches to do in order to target the right muscles and help open up any tightness. 

Complementary treatments

Other treatments, like chiropractic treatments, deep tissue massage, heat or cold application to the affected area, and ultrasound may be used before the exercises. Ultimately, your doctor of physical therapy can work with you and assess which treatments would be most beneficial for you in order to minimize or eliminate your pain symptoms. 

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