The new year is a great time to try a new fitness routine, like CrossFit or Pilates. Many eager exercisers try too hard to keep up with others, however, and can hurt their back or neck. In fact, neck injuries seem almost inevitable, when you consider the interconnected muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves in the neck. Any of these can be injured, and damage to one part of your neck often indicates damage to other parts.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which tracks product-related injuries, there were an estimated 14,390 neck fractures treated in emergency rooms per annum. However, many less-severe neck injuries don’t require an emergency room visit, so the actual incidence of such injuries is likely much higher.
Symptoms and Causes of Neck Injuries
The severity and types of neck injuries vary widely. Some symptoms include:
- Achy, stiff muscles
- Pain radiating to your shoulders or head
- Muscle spasms
- Headaches or dizziness
- Intense pain or the inability to move your extremities, usually due to severe neck trauma. (A related condition is thoracic outlet syndrome, which occurs when the nerves or blood vessels in the thoracic outlet are compressed or irritated.)
Your neck is prone to injury because it is flexible and supports your head’s weight—about 10 to 11 pounds! Some causes of neck injuries include:
- Muscle strain or tension from spending too many hours on your computer, sleeping in an awkward position, or overdoing it during exercise
- Worn joints due to age
- Nerve compression from herniated disks or bone spurs in your neck’s vertebrae
- Injuries from car accidents
- Diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, or cancer
Treating Neck Injuries
You can usually self-treat mild to moderate neck pain and plan to feel better within two to three weeks. If you’re still in pain, your doctor might prescribe stronger pain medications and muscle relaxants. Other treatment could include:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Traction or short-term immobilization
- Steroid injections for neck injuries
- Surgery to relieve root or spinal cord compression
On-Demand Physical Therapy and Neck Injuries
Physical therapy is also highly effective in treating neck injuries. Your PT can help you develop techniques to ease your pain. This starts with an evaluation to determine the cause and severity of your injury. Then you’ll receive a personalized plan to stretch and strengthen your neck. Your plan may include postural training, light exercises, cold or heat application, massage, or one of the treatments listed above.
And with on-demand physical therapy, you can get all the benefits of PT wherever you are—no need to further strain your neck by driving to a clinic. Your on-demand PT will set up exercises perfectly tailored to your actual environment and can even modify your regular workout. Whether you self-select PT or your physician refers you, give Luna on-demand physical therapy a try!
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