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Happy New Year from all of us at Stellar Physical Therapy!

We hope that you had an enjoyable holiday season and we wish you and your family a healthy 2011.

In this edition of our newsletter we are exploring neck pain and providing tips to avoid neck pain whether you spend hours driving, at a computer or working with your hands.

Do you know what causes pain in your neck?

We have all experienced someone or something that was incredibly annoying and called it “a pain in the neck”.  With good reason—neck pain is not fun and it can be downright debilitating.  Unfortunately it is something that most people will experience in their life time.  In fact, three quarters of the population has experienced neck pain at some point [1].  There are many different things that might cause neck pain, however they fall in to three main categories.

  • Overuse          
  • Injury          
  • Disease

Overuse of certain muscles can happen just in the course of everyday life.  Just by sitting incorrectly at your computer all day or hunching over the steering wheel when you drive, you are putting a strain on your neck muscles.

Job tasks other than computer work can also contribute to neck pain, especially jobs that require a lot of moving, stretching or spending a majority of time with your arms at or above chest level [1].

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If your body is not aligned correctly, your muscles have to work overtime, they become fatigued, strained and finally pain sets in.  This type of neck pain from repetitive computer use can be prevented by creating a workspace that is ergonomic.  Make sure your chair is at the proper height, your keyboard is set with the correct spacing and your monitor is at the right height and angle to keep your back, shoulders, neck and head in proper alignment.  

Other things you can do to eliminate or reduce neck pain include periodically taking a break from your computer, stretching, exercising, getting the proper sleep and reducing stress. If the pain is severe, or you can’t get relief from other methods, a visit to a Physical Therapist can be very beneficial.  Studies have shown that Physical Therapy along with an exercise regimen gives the most relief to people experiencing neck pain [3].  

Injuries also cause neck pain.  A neck injury can happen quite suddenly, as in the case of a car crash, or over time due to overuse.  It is also a fact that as you age, your joints get weaker and unable to handle actions that were possible when you were younger.  If you do experience a neck injury, the best thing to do is to see a doctor or Physical Therapist.  Even if you aren’t in great pain now, getting help early on will ensure that the injury does not become worse. 

Neck pain can also be caused by disease.  Meningitis, rheumatoid arthritis and in very rare cases, cancer can cause neck pain.  If you have pain in your neck that cannot be explained by an injury or overuse, see your doctor to rule out disease as the source. 

If your neck pain is due to overuse and ergonomic or posture changes are unable to give you the relief you need, a proper Physical Therapy program can help.  Working with a trained, licensed Physical Therapist can reduce or eliminate neck pain and educate you in the proper habits that will keep you pain free.  Call the Physical Therapists at Stellar Physical Therapy and make an appointment.  We will be happy to talk to you and answer any questions you may have about whether Physical Therapy is right for you. 

1.  Binder AI. Cervical spondylosis and neck pain. BMJ. 2007;334(7592):527-31.  
2.  Ariëns GA, Bongers PM, Hoogendoorn WE, Houtman IL, van der Wal G, van Mechelen W. High quantitative job demands and low coworker support as risk factors for neck pain: results of a prospective cohort study. Spine. 2001;26(17):1896-901. 
3.  Hoving JL, Koes BW, de Vet HC, et al. Manual therapy, physical therapy, or continued care by a general practitioner for patients with neck pain. A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2002;136 (10):713-22. 

Copyright (2015) Stellar Physical Therapy. All rights reserved.
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