Neck pain can present in a variety of ways. Neck pain can be very mild due to sleeping in an uncomfortable position developing a “crick” and stiffness, or it can result from an injury, degenerative diseases, etc. Poor posture can also result in neck pain of varying severity. People with neck pain can also experience pain radiating into the top of the shoulders or between the shoulder blades. If a person has a pinched nerve in the neck, pain and/or numbness can also be felt in the arm, forearm, hand, and fingers, which is called radiculopathy. Mild causes of neck pain should resolve in a few days. If pain persists, seek evaluation from a medical doctor or a physical therapist to determine appropriate course of treatment.
“Whiplash” describes the sudden forward/backward movement of the head and neck that oftentimes accompanies a car accident. WAD’s (whiplash-associated disorders) can cause soft tissue injuries, bone fracture, and nerve damage. Most cases of whiplash should resolve within a couple of months. Most extensive injuries require longer healing. Physical therapists address range of motion and strength of the neck as well as management of pain, body mechanics, and posture.
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are a group of disorders involving the temporomandibular joint(s) (TMJ). These jaw joints are located just in front of the ear canals. People with TMD disorders can experience pain with chewing, talking, yawning, or any other jaw opening. TMD disorders can result from a muscle problem or a joint problem and will usually have associated neck pain with it, both of which can be treated by a physical therapist to restore range of motion and strength while decreasing pain.
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is described as dizziness and spinning with rapid head position changes. BPPV is the most commonly described vertigo and can be idiopathic (unknown cause) or can result from a variety of causes such as head trauma, vestibular neuritis, and inner ear infections. As we age, we have an accumulation of crystal-like particles in our ear canals that can get trapped and overstimulate the sense organs causing dizziness and spinning. The Epley Maneuver is a common treatment performed by physical therapists for vertigo treatment to try to move the crystals to a different location in the ear canal to alleviate dizziness. However, there are other causes of vertigo that should be evaluated by your physician or physical therapist.
A Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA) or stroke occurs when there is an interruption of blood flow in the brain which causes brain cells to die and will affect resulting areas in the body with sensation deficits or weakness. Each person can be affected differently by a stroke depending on which area of the brain is affected and to what extent the blood flow is disrupted. A severe stroke can cause permanent paralysis on one side of the body or minor weaknesses that can have a good recovery rate. Stroke is actually the leading cause of disability in the United States. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) can imitate stroke-like symptoms when blood flow stops to part of the brain for a short period of time with symptoms lasting less than 24 hours. Physical therapy can help a person regain mobility, strength, range of motion, and overall functional abilities.