Neck Pain: What is the Right Combination for Pain Relief?

Physical Therapy Question

I developed neck pain about three months ago. There was no trauma or accident. The pain developed over time and now I have difficulty moving my neck without pain. I noticed that I am getting more frequent headaches. I have tried muscle relaxers; however, it is not helping. What else can be done?

Physical Therapy Answer

Neck pain affects 54% of the population some time during their lifetime. About one-third of neck pain patients experience persistent pain for longer than three months, representing a significant health-care concern. Physical therapists see neck pain patients frequently and are often the first line of treatment with these cases.

The most common symptoms associated with a neck problem are:

  • Neck pain & Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Dizziness/visual changes
  • Fatigue
  • Jaw pain
  • Arm pain/weakness
  • Numbness & tingling

Recent evidence has shown that physical therapy may be the best choice to decrease pain, improve motion, and decrease cost in neck pain patients. An article in the European Spine Journal (2009) demonstrated that the use of cervical traction (a mechanical device that gently pulls on the neck) alone reduces participant symptoms by 44%. If the traction was combined with exercise the study participants saw as much as a 78% resolution. Another research article in the journal Spine demonstrated that there was decreased medical cost and less days lost at work in patients who received mobilization/manual therapy (hands-on muscle and joint work) and exercise therapy. This group saw significant pain relief and improved function.

Based on the ever-mounting evidence, it appears that using mechanical traction, manual therapy, and exercises prescribed by a licensed physical therapist provides the best opportunity to decrease pain, improve function, and prevent chronicity in individuals who have neck pain and/or injuries.

If pain is limiting you from doing the activities you enjoy, give Mishock Physical Therapy a call for a Free Phone Consultation at (610)327-2600. Also, visit our website to read more physical therapy related articles, learn more about our treatment philosophy, our physical therapy staff, and our 6 convenient locations in Gilbertsville, Skippack, Barto, Phoenixville, Limerick, and Stowe (Pottstown) at Our mission is to exceed the expectations of our patients by providing excellence in care and service. We are here to serve you!

Dr. Mishock is one of only a few clinicians with doctorate level degrees in both physical therapy and chiropractic in the state of Pennsylvania.

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