Physiotherapy Exercises for Neck Pain

Neck pain is one of those types of pain that is so common, most people experience it at some point in their lives. In fact, many live with it chronically – that is to say, endure it – without ever doing anything about it, because they think it’s just a normal part of life. At Integra, our registered massage therapists, physiotherapists and chiropractors often see patients who say “I just slept wrong” as if that is a perfectly valid reason to suffer with neck pain!

Fortunately, there are things you can do for that pain in the neck, both at home and in our Toronto physiotherapy treatment room, which can send neck pain packing the next time it comes to call.

Causes of Neck Pain

Of course, finding out the root causes of neck pain can be an even more valuable exercise than, well, physiotherapy exercises for neck pain, because if you remove the source of the problem, it shouldn’t recur. Having a stiff, sore, painful neck can lead to headaches that really ruin your day, but unlike chronic lower back pain, neck pain usually has an easier fix. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there are so many potential causes of neck pain, it could take a while to rule things out! Visiting your Integra physiotherapist can definitely lead to a faster and more accurate diagnosis. However, here are the basics of neck pain:

  • Stiff or locked neck joints lead to…
  • Weakness and/or spasm in neck and shoulder muscles, which leads to…
  • Permanently altered neck posture, which leads to…
  • Additional strain on nearby joints and muscles, which leads to…
  • A neck that is sore no matter how much you roll it, rub it, or chew NSAIDs like candy.

Of course, neck pain can have additional, more serious causes including:

  • Bulging discs or degenerative disc disease
  • Migraines, tension headaches or cluster headaches, which radiate pain down the neck
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Pinched nerve
  • Rheumatoid arthritis swelling
  • Overuse or repetitive strain injuries such as ‘text neck’ – oh yeah, that’s a thing
  • TMJ
  • Scoliosis
  • Whiplash

Because of the many potential causes, of which this list touches only a few, it is important to seek medical treatment for a very sore, stiff neck rather than automatically assuming the cause must be your pillow or your posture.

Best Physiotherapy Exercises for Neck Pain

Fortunately, there is a way to re-train your overcompensating joints and muscles so that they perform normally again and your neck pain disappears, no matter how long you have suffered. Often, a combination of different treatments works well: stretching, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic (gentle manipulation, not cracking!) exercise and postural techniques all may work quickly, have few to no side effects, and provide a long term solution. While your Integra Health Care team has a number of amazing professional treatments to alleviate your neck pain, from joint mobilization techniques to the TENS machine to specialized bracing or support, here are some exercises for neck pain you can try at home:

  • Cervical rotations (active neck movement from side to side and round and round)
  • Chin tucks (slowly tucking the chin towards the chest)
  • Self-massage with a tennis ball between the shoulder blades against a wall

See one of our Toronto physiotherapists for more guidance on how to say goodbye to neck pain for good!


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