If you’re experiencing neck or back pain, it can be difficult to deal with.
This kind of pain can affect every action you take – from exercise to driving, you may be experiencing a lot of difficulty.
It may even be getting to the point where you can’t remember what it was like before your back or neck pain took hold.
You don’t have to lose hope, though.
Physical therapy can offer a lot of relief to those struggling with pain in their back or neck, and that includes you.
If you’re looking for a place to get started, our physical therapy clinic can help.
Contact us today – we’ll help your back or neck feeling great once more.
Or, read on to find out more about how back and neck pain works, what might be causing yours, and how we can help.
What Is Back And Neck Pain?
When you experience back or neck pain, it can be a nuisance at best, and debilitating at worst.
But it’s important to remember that back and neck pain are symptoms, not diseases or conditions themselves.
If you have pain in your back, it could be an issue with your muscles and ligaments, nerves, or the discs in your spine.
Similarly, neck pain could be affecting the spinal discs in your neck, joints, or the cartilage between your bones.
Back pain is often delineated between upper back and lower back.
Your upper back is made up of your thoracic spine, starting at about your mid back area.
The lumbar spine is the name for the lower portion of your back, and the cervical spine is another name for your neck.
If you’re experiencing aching, throbbing, tingling, weakness, or sharpness anywhere along your back or spine, then you are dealing with the difficulties of back and neck pain.
What Causes Back And Neck Pain?
There are many different conditions and issues that could lead to back pain, from a simple muscle strain after sleeping in the wrong position to a fracture from an accident.
While neck pain is often caused by car accidents or sports injuries, there are other common causes of this kind of pain.
If the ergonomics of your work or home office setup are poor you could experience neck pain.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at some of the causes of chronic pain in your back and neck, and how your Capitol Physical Therapist can help.
Physical Therapy For Radiculopathy
Radiculopathy is another name for a pinched nerve in your spine.
This usually happens when the bones and cartilage around a certain bone shift around, which can then put pressure on the root of your nerve.
These nerve roots exit your spinal cord and go through an opening in your spine, making them susceptible to shifts when your body moves around.
When these nerve roots get pinched they become inflamed, which is what causes any pain you might feel.
There are three different types of radiculopathy, which affect the three different parts of your back and neck: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar.
No matter the cause or location of your radiculopathy, a physical therapist can help you come up with ways to combat your pain.
Radiculopathy is characterized by feeling a sharp shooting pain, numbness, or weakness and tingling in your neck or back.
You could also notice a difference in how your reflexes are functioning, or a change or loss of sensation.
The symptoms you personally experience will of course vary by what type of radiculopathy you have.
Radiculopathy is caused when your nerve becomes compressed by the tissue that surrounds it.
This may occur if you have herniated one of your spinal discs, as an example.
Bone spurs, which usually happen due to traumatic impact or osteoarthritis, can also cause radiculopathy if they are putting pressure on your nerve.
Your physical therapist will work with you to come up with a routine to strengthen the area that’s hurting due to your radiculopathy.
They may also give you exercises that will help you stretch and protect that nerve or the muscles around it.
Ultimately your physical therapist will be working with you to come up with a routine that will work at easing the cause of your pain.
Physical Therapy For Strained Back Muscles
A strained back muscle occurs when your muscle has stretched too far or torn.
If you’re overusing your muscles or using them improperly you are likely to suffer from a strained back.
Muscle fatigue can also cause a strain.
Strains can be frustrating because they limit your ability to move around, especially when they’re in your back.
Your lower back is one of the most likely areas of your body to strain.
If your strain is mild you may only experience a stiffness that still allows for you to bend and move your back. If you are experiencing more severe muscle strain, you might notice:
- Sudden pain onset
- Muscle knots
- Decreased range of motion
Muscles strains in your back can be caused by something either acute or chronic.
An acute strain happens unexpectedly, often from an injury or trauma, which can happen if you have poor flexibility, conditioning, or overexert yourself.
Chronic back or neck strain could occur from repetitive motion, holding your neck in a position for too long, or consistently poor posture.
Your physical therapist will focus on a couple things if you go to them for your muscle strain.
They will first want to help you strengthen the muscles or move the joints in your back or neck that are affected.
They’ll also work on helping you stretch and restore movement in your neck and back, working with you to come up with the best plan for your unique needs.
Physical Therapy For Sciatica
One of the more frustrating spinal issues physical therapy can help with is sciatica.
Pain management for this disorder is paramount, as it can be debilitating in extreme cases.
It’s also one of the most common spinal issues physical therapy can help with. A Harvard Health article estimated that as many as 40% of people will deal with sciatica at some point in their lives.
Your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It begins in your spine, travels down your hips and buttocks, and splits in two where it travels down each leg.
Sciatica is an injury or pressure to your sciatic nerve, which frequently causes pain. Because your sciatic nerve is so large, this can manifest itself in pain or numbness along any point of your body that it touches.
As mentioned above, sciatica can result in pain and numbness. Beyond that, you may experience:
- Weakness in your legs or feet
- Loss of feeling in your legs and feet
- Loss of strength of legs and/or feet
- Painful tingling in your feet
- Bowel incontinence
- Urinary incontinence
Sciatica is caused by pressure or damage to your sciatic nerve.
How that damage occurs, however, can vary.
Causes and risk factors can include:
- Herniated disks
- Injuries, including sports injuries and workplace injuries
- Spinal stenosis
There are a number of different physical therapy treatments for sciatica that can help. The main focus is on relieving the pain it causes as well as allowing your sciatic nerve to heal.
Depending on your condition, your physical therapist may recommend:
- Hot & cold therapy
- Therapeutic massage
- Stretches & exercises
- Dry needling
Using a combination of any of the above can help you regain your full movement and strength, as well as relieve the pain your sciatica is causing.
Other Causes Of Back And Neck Pain
Sciatica, strain, and radiculopathy are of course not the only causes of back and neck pain.
Accidents and fractures, often from sports injuries or car crashes, are one of the most common causes.
Spinal osteoarthritis is also a potential cause of your pain, damaging the cartilage in your lower back.
Osteoporosis, which is a loss of bone density, can lead to fractures in your vertebrae called compression fractures.
Kidney infections or stones, tumors in the spine, and fungal or bacterial infection are other causes of back pain.
How Can Physical Therapy Help With Back And Neck Pain?
Your physical therapist will come up with a plan that addresses your unique needs when it comes to your back pain.
There’s no one size fits all plan – it’ll be catered to you.
Their primary focus will be on pain management, which they may tackle with techniques like: joint mobilizations, pain neuroscience education, or dry needling.
Your physical therapist will also give you exercises to help you improve your range of motion while also focusing on your strength.
Most of all, they’ll make sure you’re going at a pace that’s safe for you, and will help you modify your routines so you can get back to the life you’re used to.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
If you’re struggling with back or neck pain, you don’t have to try to navigate it on your own.
Your Capitol Physical Therapy treatment will be geared toward helping you get back to your old routines.
Don’t wait on it, book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today to get started.