The talented athletes who performed in the 2016 Rio Olympics inspired followers across the globe. Their bodies seem to be made of steel and immune to pain. In fact, viewers across the globe are mirroring some of the strategies undertaken by Olympic athletes in an effort to keep their own bodies free of pain. One of the best examples is Michael Phelps’ use of the ancient Chinese practice of “Cupping” to ease soreness and relieve neck and back pain. After Phelps earned another slew of medals in Rio, Kim Kardashian and other celebrities turned to cupping in an effort to relieve their own neck pain.
In spite of the growing popularity of cupping, it is not a scientifically proven means of alleviating neck pain. In fact, failure to properly treat neck pain may lead to the development of other health complications and difficulty performing daily activities. Below are the most common questions people have about neck pain along with an exciting and innovative treatment for neck pain that can help you regain your top form.
Q) What does neck pain feel like?
A) There is not one “all-around” feeling that exists with neck pain. Just as there are different types of headaches, there are different types of neck pain. Below are the most common sensations that people feel when they experience neck pain:
- Stabbing pain in a particular area of the neck
- A feeling of stiffness that makes it difficult to turn your head
- General soreness that is not isolated to one area of the neck
- Sharp pain that travels from the neck to the arms, head or another area of the body
Q) What is causing my neck pain?
A) Neck pain can stem from a variety of causes. In fact, people who are just watching The Olympics are just as apt to suffer neck pain as Olympic performers – especially if the viewers are hunched over a monitor while watching. While there is no single culprit behind neck pain, most episodes of neck pain can be traced to poor posture or a traumatic injury. Below are some of the most common causes of neck pain:
- Sleeping in an awkward position that puts strain on the neck
- Carrying a heavy item with one hand, which puts strain on one side of the body
- Suffering from whiplash or another injury caused by a car accident
- Spending extended periods of time hunched over a computer monitor
- Pain caused by a physical malady such as a herniated disc or pinched nerve
Q) How do I know if my neck pain is serious?
A) An evaluation by a medical professional or physical therapist is the best way to determine whether your neck pain is serious in nature. However, there are some key signs that suggest that your neck pain may require treatment by a professional. They are as follows:
- Neck pain occurs in conjunction with balance or coordination problems
- The presence of tingling or numbness in your neck, shoulder or arms
- Neck pain is accompanied by difficulty gripping objects
- The neck pain does not go away or continues to intensify in severity
- Neck pain is accompanied by incontinence
Q) How should I treat my neck pain?
A) Treatment should depend upon the severity of your pain and the presence of other symptoms. If your pain is debilitating or rapidly increasing in severity, you should see a professional healthcare provider immediately. However, if your neck pain is minor or fleeting, youmay be able to reduce inflammation and alleviate your pain with the following measures:
- Take an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Apply heat (via a shower or heat wrap) if your neck pain is chronic in nature
- Apply ice in twenty-minute intervals if the pain is acute or your neck is inflamed
- Consider scheduling an appointment with a massage therapist to help stimulate blood flow
- Ask your health care provider about a muscle relaxant if you are experiencing spasms
Q) Is there anything that I can do to help prevent neck pain?
A) Yes! While it is impossible to prevent every type of neck pain, there are some simple tips that you can follow at home and work to help avoid the development of neck pain. Below are some easy steps that you can take to help prevent neck pain:
- When working on your computer, place your computer monitor at eye level
- Stretch regularly, especially if you are at your desk or traveling for long hours
- Try to sleep on your back rather than your stomach or side
- Invest in a firm pillow that supports your head and neck
- Consider participating in a yoga or Pilates class
- Remember the importance of good posture and avoid hunching your shoulders forward
Q) What can happen if I don’t treat my neck pain?
A) Some episodes of neck pain may improve without professional treatment. However, more severe cases of neck pain can lead to the development of other health problems if left untreated. Examples of some complications that may arise as a result of untreated neck pain include the following:
- Sleep interruptions
- Absenteeism at work due to pain
Q) What is the best way to ensure that my neck pain is properly treated?
A) First, avoid the temptation to follow the habits of a celebrity! A licensed healthcare professional should diagnose your neck pain and outline the best course of treatment to help you eliminate your neck pain. When evaluating doctors and physical therapists, it is important to choose a provider that is dedicated to healthcare excellence and recognizes the importance that modern technology and education play in treating neck pain.
Q) What qualities should I seek when choosing a physical therapist to help with my neck pain?
A) Seek gold medal treatment by finding an experienced therapist that has been trained in manual physical therapy. The physical therapists and neck pain specialists with Orthopedic and Balance Therapy have established themselves as industry leaders by receiving extensive professional training in this innovative and effective technique. Manual physical therapy is a specialized, hands-on type of physical therapy that involves the strategic positioning of the hands to manipulate joints and put pressure on muscle to alleviate pain. One of the therapists with Orthopedic and Balance Therapy will develop a treatment plan to alleviate your discomfort and address the underlying causes of your neck pain.