Is Neck Pain Normal?

Is Neck Pain Normal?

Neck pain is a major musculoskeletal disorder among adults. It is estimated that at some point in life, 20 - 70 percent of people¹ will experience neck pain. Though most people have neck pain at one time or another, this pain can often be confusing because we tend to view the neck as a fragile area of the body.

The good news is there is no need to panic just yet. There are several different factors that are important to consider when understanding neck pain. For instance, sometimes this pain can actually stem from an issue with your shoulder, bad posture, or a litany of other contributing factors.

There are several things that could potentially contribute to feeling neck pain. Some patients will suffer from acute neck pain, neck pain that arrives suddenly and then fades quickly, or chronic neck pain in which you suffer from the same aches and pains frequently and for long durations of time. There are several things to consider when evaluating whether or not your neck pain needs tending to and if it is normal. A physical therapist at one of our hundreds of in-person clinics or virtual appointments can help you determine whether or not your neck pain is something to be concerned about.

When in doubt, a physical therapist can be a great starting point to helping you get back to doing the things you love, pain-free! We've identified some of the critical answers to the questions you might have regarding your neck pain, whether or not it's normal, and highlight ways in which physical therapy can help you overcome your neck pain.

Understanding Neck Pain

Most people get a sore neck from time to time from performing normal everyday tasks like: sleeping with your neck in an uncomfortable position, thrusting your neck incorrectly during exercise, poor posture when sitting or standing, getting stressed throughout the day, or working in a sedentary environment without changing body positions.

For example, if you sit at a desk at your work with little to no movement all day, you are probably more likely to experience neck strain than someone who is moving about during the day. Due to the fact that you're positioning your body in such a way that it is uncomfortable for extended periods of time. The same can be said with your neck as your body's position could determine what kind of neck pain you're experiencing after long days at work sitting at your desk.

If you experience acute neck pain, the pain will usually appear suddenly and occur in the muscles, ligaments, joints, or discs. This acute neck pain typically goes away in days or weeks. Those that are experiencing chronic neck pain will feel severe pain which can last for months. The onset of chronic neck pain can be unknown but can increase with certain strenuous activities.

Symptoms To Look Out For

There are several symptoms and signs you should look out for if you're worried about the neck pain you're experiencing. A few of the telltale signs that it's time to get a healthcare professional's evaluation and opinion on your neck pain is if you're experiencing any of the symptoms or signs:

  • If it's been bothering you for quite some time (chronic neck pain)
  • If you feel like it's getting worse
  • If it's severe and not improving

A healthcare professional and physical therapist will be able to perform a comprehensive evaluation on your neck pain to determine what might be causing it. In addition, our physical therapists at Results PT will be able to determine if you're doing something that could potentially be causing it like improper movements, poor posture, etc.

Potential Causes of Neck Pain

There are several things that could potentially cause you to experience neck pain. A physical therapist or other healthcare professionals would be able to assist you with pinpointing some of the things that could be potentially contributing to the pain you're experiencing.

Many individuals brush aside neck pain or back pain because they feel like it's just something that happens as you get older and everyone has to live with it. That's not necessarily true as there are other contributing factors that could determine whether or not you're feeling neck pain, not just your age. You shouldn't force your body to handle pain when there are plenty of physical therapy treatments and programs that are designed to help you do the things you love without going through pain.

Some of the more common causes of neck pain include:

  • Muscle Strains
  • Diseases
  • Compressed Nerves
  • Injuries
  • Worn Joints

Are There At-Home Neck Pain Remedies?

In less serious cases, the triggers for neck pain are usually resolved in a few days, and symptoms usually improve with slow range-of-motion neck stretching, icing the area, gentle neck massage, ensuring your neck is supported by your pillow, and taking breaks from overuse. As always, rest is a great first line of recovery so your neck has time to repair the damages without overuse or overextension.

Some of the most common at-home neck pain remedies include things that you can do quite quickly. Make sure that you're using good posture when sitting or standing, try to take frequent breaks throughout the day on the activities you're working on, and try to reduce some of the day to day stress that you're feeling. In addition, make a conscious effort to adjust your desk, chair, and computer stand to ensure that you're not positioning yourself in such a way that you'd cause neck pain or back pain through prolonged use.

Many people experienced alleviated pain when ingesting an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. However, be sure to contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice when taking any over-the-counter prescription medications.

Physical therapy has been shown to treat neck pain with a variety of treatment options and programs. If you're looking to alleviate the neck pain you're experiencing and understand why it is happening, you should connect with a physical therapist today!

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Neck pain is usually just tension or overuse of the area, but there are often other contributing factors in which a physical therapist can help guide you and educate you on what is causing your specific neck pain. If you are experiencing neck pain that is increasing in severity or not getting any better, visiting your physical therapist is a great step to recovery and future neck injury prevention.

Your physical therapist will be able to assess your injured area and use spinal mobilization and manipulation to bring movement back into your neck. Your therapist can help you understand the reasons behind your neck pain and educate you on proper stretches, posture, exercises, and strength-building activities to help prevent neck pain.

At Results Physiotherapy, we find that techniques like: joint mobilization, muscular retraining, and deep tissue mobilization are proven to be effective in treating neck pain.

In the case of nerve compression as the cause of neck pain, manual and mechanical traction is proven to be helpful in alleviating pain in patients.

If you are feeling no relief from your neck pain, contact our friendly team at Results Physiotherapy so we can help you feel better, faster! Our physical therapists are here to help you get back to doing the things you love pain-free!

  1. Sinnott, Patricia L, et al. “Trends in Diagnosis of Painful Neck and Back Conditions, 2002 to 2011.” Medicine, Wolters Kluwer Health, May 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440123/.
Posted by Ryan Bucci at 9:04 AM
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