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Reasons For Neck Pain

Think about how many hours you spend at your desk at work, how often you look down at your cell phone or computer, or how often you play video games, as well as time you spend relaxing in front of the TV. What you may not realize is how all of this affects your posture. Over time, these repetitive tasks put us into a position called forward head posture, in which your head and neck protrude forward into a flexed position. Although poor posture and sedentary lifestyles are big contributions to neck pain, there are several other conditions that can cause that big pain in the neck.

Osteoporosis and Forward Head Lifestyle

Forward head posture is also caused by age-related degeneration and muscular weakness. Over time, our bones can become more brittle and porous, leading to a condition known as osteoporosis. Weakened, fragile bones increase the risk for falls or broken bones. As the bones become more brittle, the spine compresses and begins to change shape, creating a stooped posture known as a Dowager’s Hump in the upper thoracic spine, in addition to forward head posture. The best treatment for age-related spinal degeneration and porous bones is weight-bearing exercise to slow bone loss and stimulate the growth of new bone.

Whiplash

Contrary to popular belief, whiplash does not only occur during a car accident. Whiplash can be caused by any sudden jolt of the head in a forward or backward motion and can take place during any sport. The structures injured during whiplash can vary but include muscles in the head, neck, trunk and back, ligaments, nerve roots, discs and joints. Symptoms will also vary depending upon the mechanism of injury as well as the severity of the body’s inflammatory response. Whiplash is characterized by tightness, stiffness and muscle spasms in the neck and back; headaches; neck, shoulder and/or back pain; radiating pain or numbness down the arm; and difficulty concentrating or sleeping.

Herniated Disc

Herniated discs are more common than you think. Our intervertebral discs lose their hydration and suppleness and begin to “dry out” as we age, losing height and causing the vertebrae to approximate. As the spine degenerates and the vertebrae compress, the discs between each vertebrae further compress, leading to increased pressure. This wear and tear on the spine coupled with increased pressure can cause one or more discs to protrude from their natural position and begin pressing on nerves. This is called a herniated disc. Symptoms of disc herniation include neck pain that may radiate down into your arm or hands, tingling or numbness down your arm, and associated muscle weakness caused by nerve compression.

Physical Therapy’s Role in Alleviating Neck Pain

Although each underlying cause of neck pain may present differently and each patient’s presentation differs, all of the aforementioned conditions will benefit from manual hands-on therapy, including manual stretching to increase flexibility of tight muscles; joint mobilization to increase joint nutrition and mobility; manual traction to relieve disc compression and muscle tension; and soft tissue mobilization to reduce muscle tightness and relieve trigger points. Furthermore, each physical therapy plan of care includes targeted stretches for tight muscles and individualized weight-bearing and resistance strengthening exercises to reduce postural weakness and improve overall daily function.

Call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center at 703-450-4300 and we would be happy to get you on the path to healing. CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you. 

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