Using Physiotherapy To Treat Neck Pain

Posted on: 30 December 2020


Neck pain is a relatively common musculoskeletal complaint, and when it doesn't resolve on its own after a couple of weeks, sufferers tend to turn to their GP for treatment. GPs can prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatories, but medication isn't usually the answer for neck pain, and your GP will likely direct you to a physiotherapist. Neck pain can be caused by a number of things including worn joints in the vertebrae of the neck, a slipped disc, poor posture, poor sleeping position and muscle strain. Neck pain can significantly impact your ability to get on with daily life and can lead to you experiencing headaches and having a reduced range of movement. Here are 3 ways physiotherapy can benefit those with neck pain.

Supportive Collar

In some cases, what the neck really needs to heal is a period of rest. This can be challenging since the neck is in constant use, so your physiotherapist can measure your neck and fit you with a custom-made supportive collar that can help take the pressure off your neck muscles. Wearing a collar for a short period of time can help reduce inflammation, which can benefit those with a slipped disc or trapped nerve in their neck. Once the supportive collar is removed, you may find your neck pain has resolved or you may need to work on loosening off tight muscles in the next stage of your treatment plan.

Targeted Exercises

Your physiotherapist can show you how to do a series of gentle, targeted exercises that are designed to improve the range of movement in your neck, strengthen your neck muscles and develop a better posture. You will need to complete these exercises at home each day, and your physiotherapist will arrange follow-up appointments with you to check your progress and determine whether the exercise program they have designed for you is bringing you relief from pain and stiffness. It may be necessary to adjust the exercises you are doing as your neck becomes stronger and more flexible.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a drug-free pain relief treatment that works by temporarily blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. Your physiotherapist will provide you with a small, portable TENS machine and show you how to use it. The machine has thin wires attached and each wire has a soft pad attached to the end of it. You place the pads on your neck and the machine delivers electrical impulses to your neck. Temporarily blocking pain signals can be useful for those who would otherwise find it too painful or difficult to carry out neck exercises, so TENS can be used alongside exercises as a supportive treatment. TENS can also be useful for those who need quick relief from neck pain to get through an important event or meeting.

These are just a few ways physiotherapy can help those with neck pain. If you're experiencing neck pain that hasn't resolved after a couple of weeks, schedule an initial assessment with your physiotherapist as soon as possible.