Neck Pain FAQ’s
In this post I want to address some common questions I am asked about neck pain and what to do about it. If you have neck pain or if you know of someone who does then this article is for you.
Over my 23 years of experience as a physical therapist, I’ve seen numerous conditions. Specifically neck and back pain are two of the main issues I see.
I would say, in 23 years, I’ve seen a lot regarding the neck. Anywhere from car wrecks to surgery, or even whiplash from a toddler that my wife had and I discussed in a previous post – Don’t Be A Pain In The Neck. Over the last 23 years, I have received numerous questions about neck pain.
I have distilled it down to the top 10, and turned it into a FREE Report you can get here but today I want to address three very common ones.
How long is it going to take to recover?
At MOSS Rehabilitation Center, I’ve developed The MAGICAL Five Phases of Healing to help patients understand the recovery journey.
In Phase I, it’s really about decreasing the pain and inflammation, which is really what most people are after. As the pain and inflammation start to reduce you need to do something to address the cause of the problem and underlying loss of strength or mobility. If the cause is not addressed it will frequently lead to recurring problems sending you through the revolving door of doctor and therapy visits, medications, injections and possibly surgery. Most clients who report this say something like “my problem keeps coming back, why?” Often because they only addressed the pain component.
Phase II is making sure that we help you restore the motion and strength in your neck. You have 7 specific little bones called vertebrae in your neck. If a few of them have become stiff over the years of staring at a computer or holding your head in an awkward position it creates stress on the surrounding ones. If we don’t address this, it can lead to continued pain and recurring problems. The muscles that surround the bones will become weak leading to a poor support system making you feel like a “bobble head doll”.
In Phase III we want to help you return to your normal daily activities. This could be performing light activities around the house, such as reaching into a cabinet to grab a cup, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, mowing the yard, showering or getting dressed. Basically anything you need to do on a regular basis.
Phase IV –this phase is all about maintaining the progress and prevention of future problems. The goal of this phase is to increase your strength and endurance to prevent future issues and encourage you to exercise on a regular basis. You are still coming in for your sessions with your physical therapist but it is a lot less frequent.
This is about building healthy habits that will benefit you for years to come.
In Phase V you are pain free or relatively free of pain, back to normal tasks and working out on a regular basis but now you want to really up your game. We call this Performance Enhancement and designing these types of programs is really fun.
Phase Five is really for people who want to take it to that next level. They want to thrive more than just survive. They want to live life to the fullest and they know they have to take care of their body and health to do so. Patients tell me they want to be able to play with the grandkids, take amazing vacations and really enjoy life, whether they’re still working or retired. That’s what phase five is all about.
Now, back to the original question of, how long does it take to get better? Ultimately, it depends on the kind of condition that you were in prior to your injury or surgery. If you are suffering from general health issues or you’ve had previous neck injuries it’s probably gonna take you longer to heal versus someone that is relatively healthy.
The severity of the injury also affects your ability to heal. Maybe you are suffering from a small whiplash-type trauma and you are young and healthy. It may only take a couple of weeks. Versus someone who has had multiple neck injuries, is older and is involved in a major car wreck. This could take months to a year to fully recover.
One also has to consider if they are recovering from surgery or not. Ultimately it is variable, and the best way to know is to get with your physical therapist at MOSS Rehabilitation Center. We will go through the process with you and give you a better understanding of where you are in the healing phase as well as how long it’ll take to get better.
Call NOW To Book A Free No Obligation Discovery Visit 817-220-MOSS (6677)
Another frequent question is how should I sleep?
Sleep is super important, it is vital for your recovery, whether you’re recovering from some type of illness or an injury. Sleep is when the recovery process happens within the body, and if you’re not getting adequate sleep, it’s really going to delay your healing and recovery.
So how do you sleep if you have neck pain? The best position is on your back. It may take several tries to find an appropriate pillow, but sleeping on your back, is going to be the best for your neck. The second best position would be sleeping on your side… Again, finding the appropriate pillow might be a challenge but don’t give up. I find that using some type of body pillows to block you so you’re not rolling and twisting really helps.
The worst position would be sleeping on your stomach. If you sleep on your stomach, more than likely you are laying with your head in an awkward twisted position for a prolonged period of time. This is not good for the vessels and the arteries that run alongside your neck, or for the joints and the disc.
The final question that I will cover today is very common, and it has to do with a patient saying something along the lines of “yeah, it’s not my neck, it’s my shoulder, or it’s the pain in my arm, or it’s my shoulder blade that hurts the most”. This was my wife, she said she didn’t really have neck pain, but she had a lot of shoulder blade pain on the left side.
Patients are questioning why we are saying they have a “neck issue” when their neck doesn’t hurt.
The answer to this is it is called referred pain. If you’ve ever had a friend or loved one have a heart condition or heart attack they often report pain into their arm and shoulder, maybe all the way down to the hand. This is a similar occurrence. Different tissues in the body share nerve pathways.
A similar thing occurs in the neck. It’s quite possible whether it’s the disc, the nerve, or the joints in your neck that are irritated and painful may result in you experiencing pain down the arm and into the shoulder or shoulder blade.
The best thing for you to do is come in for a discovery visit. Let us examine your neck, upper back and shoulder to help you get an accurate diagnosis of what is truly going on.
Although my wife didn’t report neck pain when I tested her, she had severe limitations and an increase in her shoulder blade pain when she looked up to the ceiling. This definitely confirms that it’s a neck issue causing her shoulder blade (referral) pain.
One other bonus question I’ll just cover here, because it is relevant. A lot of patients say, Well, I shouldn’t do anything because I haven’t had an X-ray or an MRI.
X-rays and MRI’s are useful, but they are useful to help confirm the diagnosis, not to make a diagnosis. There are several research reports performed on people that have absolutely NO pain whatsoever, yet on MRI they have arthritis or a disc protrusion/herniation This is called a false positive.
If you only go off of what the X-ray or the MRI is showing you it’s quite possible, it could lead to unnecessary injections or surgery that may or may not actually fix or help the problem that is shown on the MRI. So it’s best to get a hands-on movement-style exam and diagnosis. Then if necessary, use X-ray or MRI imaging to help confirm what is found.
This is why we offer a FREE NO OBLIGATION Discovery Visit and it’s easy to get started.
- Schedule a FREE Discovery Visit with one of our experts.
- Receive a Customized (Individualized) Treatment Plan
- Get Your Life Back and Do What You Love
Hopefully this answers some of your questions. If you do have other questions about neck pain, go ahead and give us a call at 817-220-6677. We are happy to help and answer those questions for you.
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Declare Your Own Personal Victory Over Headaches and Neck Pain!
How To Resolve Your Neck Pain Before It ruins your life
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Saturday, May 1st, 10 AM
Seating is limited due to social distancing, only (
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