Neck Pain Physiotherapy

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Dr. Nirubba Thayalan in action providing shoulder exercises at ProHealth Oshawa Physiotherapy Clinic

It’s not uncommon to experience neck pain, especially if you work on computer all day long, and have poor posture, such as leaning over a computer or hunching over a workbench. These habits can strain the muscles in your neck. You may experience neck pain due to a variety of reasons, including arthritis, disc degeneration, narrowing of the spinal canal, muscle inflammation, strain, or trauma. Conditions like osteoarthritis which is also a common cause of neck pain. While you may ignore your neck all the time but doing some motion exercises provided by your physiotherapist can keep your neck pain free!  

Anatomy of Our Neck

The neck functions as a crucial medium between the head and the rest of the body. It serves as a connecting link between the mandible and the clavicle. It is a complex part of the neck anatomy comprising of various muscles and tissues. Neck anatomy plays an important role in maintaining normal physiological functions.

The neck performs several essential functions, such as supporting and linking the brain and cervical spine, regulating metabolism, aiding in breathing, swallowing, and speaking, and promoting circulation and lymphatic drainage from the head.

In summary, the neck is home to several critical structures, rendering it one of the most crucial body regions with distinctive and intricate anatomy.

Comprising small bones called vertebrae, the spinal column provides support to the head while guarding the spinal cord. It acts as the chief system that links the network of nerves throughout the body, facilitating the transmission of messages and sensations like pain to the brain.

A diagram showing the anatomy of the neck from the back would typically include the following structures: Cervical vertebrae: The seven individual bones of the neck, labeled C1 to C7, which form the cervical spine. Spinous processes: Bony projections that extend posteriorly from each cervical vertebra, forming the visible bumps along the back of the neck. Nuchal ligament: A thick, elastic ligament that connects the spinous processes and provides support to the back of the neck. Occipital bone: The bone at the base of the skull that articulates with the first cervical vertebra (C1), known as the atlas. Muscles: Various muscles, such as the trapezius and levator scapulae, which attach to and support the cervical vertebrae, allowing for movement and stability of the neck. Posterior neck skin: The outermost layer of the neck, covering the underlying structures and providing protection.

Atlas (C1)

Axis (C2)






Understanding Neck Pain

Neck pain is a prevalent medical condition that impacts the cervical vertebrae, muscles, and other soft tissues in the neck. The severity can vary from mild discomfort to intense and incapacitating pain, which can hinder head and neck movements.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on neck pain. With more people working from home and spending prolonged periods in front of computers and other digital devices, it’s become a common complaint. Poor posture, inadequate workstations, and extended screen time have contributed to an increase in neck pain cases.

Additionally, the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic have led to tension in the neck and shoulder muscles, exacerbating the problem. As a result, it’s crucial to take steps to prevent and manage neck pain, such as regular breaks, proper posture, and ergonomic workstations.

The duration of neck pain, also known as cervicalgia, can vary from a few days to several years, depending on its underlying cause. Neck pain is categorized as either axial or radicular. Axial neck pain is usually confined to the neck area, while radicular neck pain may extend to other regions like the shoulders or arms. Neck pain can also be acute, lasting for a few days to six weeks, or chronic, continuing for more than three months.

Signs and Symptoms of Neck Pain:

Neck pain can present itself in several ways, depending on the individual and the root cause of the pain. It can feel like a continuous, dull ache or a sudden, intense stabbing or burning pain. Some people may also experience a shooting pain that travels from the neck to the shoulders or arms. Neck pain can manifest as a constant ache or a sudden sharp or burning discomfort. Additionally, it may trigger shooting pain that radiates from the neck to the shoulders or arms.

Along with the aforementioned symptoms, neck pain may also cause:

Pain and discomfort around the base of the skull can trigger headaches, especially tension headaches.

A pinched nerve in the neck can cause numbness or tingling sensations in the arms, hands, or fingers.

Muscles in the arms or hands may feel weak or fatigued due to nerve compression in the neck. This may also radiate till shoulders and arms.

In some cases, neck pain can produce a burning sensation in the neck, shoulders, or upper back. This can uncomfortable and lead to hinderances of daily activities.

Chronic neck pain can lead to fatigue, making it difficult to perform daily activities and make one frustrated with pain and discomfort.

Neck pain can disrupt sleep, leading to insomnia or poor quality of sleep. Of course, all the above symptoms will lead to disrupted sleep.

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Diagnosis of Neck Pain

Medical History

Our physiotherapist will begin by taking a detailed medical history. They will ask you about your symptoms, how long you’ve been experiencing them, and if anything makes the pain worse or better. They will also inquire about any underlying medical conditions, previous injuries or surgeries, and medications you’re currently taking. They will also try to understand what the cause of neck pain like your lifestyle, day-today activities, sports injury or accidents may be to learn more about the root cause of the neck pain.

Physical Examination

Next, our physiotherapist will perform a physical examination. They will assess your neck’s range of motion, posture, and any tenderness, tightness or swelling. They may also examine your shoulder, upper back and arm motion to determine if the pain is radiating from these areas. Our physiotherapist may also check your strength, reflexes, and sensation in your arms and hands.

Diagnostic Tests

Based on the medical history and physical examination, the physiotherapist may recommend diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, or nerve conduction studies. These tests are ordered if pain is chronic or severe in nature and to rule out any serious conditions that may responsible for your neck pain. These tests can help to identify any structural abnormalities in the spine or surrounding tissues that may be contributing to your neck pain. 


After completing the evaluation, the physiotherapist will make a diagnosis. They will identify the root cause of your neck pain and any contributing factors, such as poor posture or muscle weakness.

Treatment Plan

Finally, our physiotherapists will develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. This plan will include exercises to improve strength and flexibility, manual therapy to reduce pain and stiffness, and education on posture and ergonomics. The physiotherapist may also recommend heat or cold therapy, shockwave therapy, laser therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, or dry needling to relieve pain and promote healing.


Neck Pain Treatment:

Neck pain can stem from various factors such as poor posture, injury, or underlying medical conditions. Based on the root cause and intensity of the pain, a physiotherapist may suggest different therapies to alleviate the pain and improve neck function. Here are some common neck pain treatment options:

Physiotherapy: Our team of experienced and committed to help physiotherapists, will create a tailored exercise program. The neck pain relief plan will enhance strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the neck. This makes physiotherapy one of the most common and effective neck pain treatments.

Massage Therapy: Our team of diverse massage therapist with their different techniques like Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, or trigger point therapy can help reduce muscle tension and ease neck pain as soon as in one session. Depending on your neck pain condition and severity, our physiotherapists and massage therapists would recommend the best physiotherapy treatment to help our patients in Oshawa.

Acupuncture: Our certified and experienced physiotherapists are trained to alleviate neck pain through acupuncture. This technique involves insertion of thin needles into specific points or areas on the body to stimulate the nerves and release tension. Therefore, acupuncture can be an effective technique in providing neck pain relief.

Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic adjustments can improve alignment and mobility in the neck, thereby reducing pain and stiffness. Read more about our rockstar chiropractor Dr. Janice here. Learn more about chiropractic adjustments.

Lifestyle Changes: Improving posture, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding repetitive neck movements can help prevent neck pain from recurring.

Heat and Cold Therapy: This would be an at home option to alleviate your neck pain and keep your day going. Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation of the neck muscles. A heating pad or warm towel can be used to apply heat, while an ice pack or cold compress can be used for cold therapy.

Our professional physiotherapists are here to diagnose the root cause of your neck pain and determine the most suitable treatment options for your specific neck pain condition.

Neck Pain Physiotherapy

Suffering from neck pain can be debilitating, affecting the quality of life and limiting daily tasks. Fortunately, physiotherapy offers a non-invasive and effective solution to address the root causes of neck pain and ease discomfort. The first step in neck pain physiotherapy treatment is a thorough assessment of the individual’s condition, including their medical history, range of motion, strength, and other contributing factors. Based on this assessment, our physiotherapist will create a personalized treatment plan comprising exercise, manual therapy techniques, and lifestyle modifications.

Exercises may include stretching, strengthening, and range of motion exercises aimed at improving the flexibility and strength of the neck muscles. This can help to reduce inflammation, increase blood flow, and promote healing. Manual therapy techniques, such as massage and joint mobilization, can also alleviate pain and improve circulation in the neck muscles.

In addition to exercises and manual therapy, our physiotherapists can provide education on proper posture and ergonomics to prevent future episodes of neck pain. They may also recommend lifestyle modifications, such as changes to sleeping habits or workplace setup, to reduce strain on the neck muscles and alleviate pain.

A white male in evident discomfort, clenching his teeth and placing both hands on his neck due to severe neck pain. His facial expression reflects the intensity of the discomfort he is experiencing. The image focuses on the upper body, capturing the individual's hands firmly gripping the sides of his neck as he seeks relief from the pain. This visual representation illustrates the distressing nature of neck pain and its impact on the individual's well-being
Dr. Natalie Daley in action providing neck exercises at ProHealth Oshawa Physiotherapy Clinic

Chiropractor for Neck Pain Relief:

Chiropractic care is a holistic approach to healthcare that focuses on the relationship between the spine and the nervous system of our bodies. Our Chiropractors use a variety of techniques to address the underlying causes of neck pain, such as poor posture, muscle tension, and spinal misalignments.

One of the predominant techniques that chiropractors use to relieve your neck pain is spinal manipulation or adjustment. This involves applying gentle, targeted pressure to the joints of the spine in order to realign them and improve neck mobility. Spinal adjustments can help to relieve pressure on the nerves that run through the neck and alleviate pain in the surrounding muscles.

In addition to spinal adjustments, chiropractors may also use manual therapy techniques to address muscle tension and reduce pain. These may include massage, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release, which are all designed to relax tight muscles and promote healing in the affected area.

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