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You know you’ve done something. Maybe you slept wrong, maybe helping your friend move last weekend is catching up to you. But whatever happened, your neck is in serious pain. 

So what can you do to help it? 

One in three people is affected by neck pain, whether that be short term, known as acute pain, or long term, known as chronic pain. Acute pain usually lasts momentarily or for a short period of time and goes away. Chronic pain, however, comes and stays indefinitely, usually caused by an injury that wasn’t taken care of or an underlying condition. 

It’s easy to say that it’s something that greatly affects people and even can lead to lifestyle changes. But that doesn’t mean you need to panic. 

One of the great ways to help with neck pain is through physical therapy. But before you can decide if physical therapy is for you, you need to understand neck pain and its causes. 

Causes of neck pain

Neck pain can be caused by many things, like if you sleep in an incorrect position at night or you don’t have a supportive pillow that allows your neck and shoulders to fully relax. You can strain your neck from not having good posture throughout the day. 

Another cause of neck pain can be an injury, including strained muscles and overuse of muscles, like lifting from the back and not the knees. You also could have something wrong with the nerves in the neck. 

There is also an injury having to do with sports or a car accident known as whiplash. Whiplash occurs when your head goes through a rapid back and forth motion leading to severe stiffness and loss of motion.

Another cause could be degenerative diseases that can cause chronic neck pain, such as degenerative disc disease and osteoporosis. To know if you have one of these conditions, you need to go see your doctor and discuss your symptoms. 

This list doesn’t necessarily include all of the things that cause neck pain as the neck is such a fragile part of the body. To identify what is causing your neck pain, you need to look at your symptoms. 


The symptoms of neck pain can vary from person to person, but the most obvious symptom is varying degrees of pain from a sharp, piercing feeling to an overall achy feeling. Other symptoms of neck pain include: 

  • Loss of mobility: Maybe it’s hard to move your head side to side or look up and down. 
  • Soreness: This doesn’t mean you can’t move your neck but just, in general, it’s uncomfortable and feels a little tight or tender. 
  • Headaches: Pain in the neck can lead to headaches that radiate throughout the skull
  • Nerve pain: This pain also is known as radicular pain and is associated with a nerve in the neck having pressure on it. It usually feels like a burning sensation under the skin. 

How physical therapy can help

The goal of any physical therapy regime is to ease the pain of the afflicted body part and then help it become stronger and more resistant to injury or other issues. The same goes for how physical therapy helps the neck.

In the first weeks of physical therapy, you’ll work on stretching the neck and improving the range of motion without pain. Once that happens, you’ll move onto exercises for movement and strength that will help prevent future flare-ups. 

There are two main types of physical therapy: active and passive. Active physical therapy involves you doing exercises and stretches on your own and improving the strength and flexibility of the neck muscle. 

Passive physical therapy involves various treatments done to you by your physical therapist. These can include massages, ultrasounds or electrotherapy, with the goal being to reduce pain and swelling. 

Physical therapy doesn’t necessarily completely get rid of the pain, but it can improve quality of life greatly for anyone suffering from chronic neck pain. 

Schedule an Appointment Today

Here at South Orange Rehabilitation & Wellness, we take the time to get to know each of our patients and figure out what’s causing them the most problems. From back pain to full-on injuries, our specialists are here to care for you and get you back on your feet. 

Reach out and schedule an appointment with us today. We can’t wait to meet you.