Neck pain affects roughly 30% to 50% of people 21 years of age and older in the U.S. each year. The number of people who do not experience relief from their symptoms is even higher. It’s estimated that about 50% to 85% of people in the U.S. aged 21 years and older never completely get rid of their symptoms and may even go on to experience chronic neck pain.

This type of pain can make even the simplest of tasks difficult to complete, which is why finding the right course of treatment is so essential. A qualified specialist, like a physical therapist, can help you determine the source of your pain as well as the best way to treat it.

Who Is More Likely to Develop Neck Pain?

Neck pain is so prevalent that it can occur in just about anyone, but here are some factors that may make it more likely that a person could develop it: 

  • Someone with poor posture — Poor posture can have a significant impact on several parts of the body, including the neck. If you frequently slouch or stand without using proper posture, you may be at risk of developing neck pain.
  • Someone who performs repetitive motions — Repetitive motion injuries are common for those who perform activities that require the same types of movements over and over. If you perform repetitive physical activities, be it while working or playing sports, you may have a higher risk of developing neck pain as a result.
  • Someone with a muscle strain — If you perform actions that involve putting stress on the muscles in your body, this may put you at a greater risk of neck pain. Heavy lifting can often cause muscle strain if an object is unusually heavy or if heavy objects are frequently lifted during daily activities.
  • Someone who is older in age — Neck pain can affect people at any age, but it’s more likely to affect someone who is older, rather than someone who is younger. For example, an older person is more likely to have worn-down joints, which may increase their chance of developing neck pain.

What Causes Neck Pain?

To gain a more in-depth understanding of what causes neck pain, it’s necessary to look at  potential causes. The cause of your neck pain will determine how your physical therapist chooses to treat your condition, so finding the correct cause is essential. Some possible causes of neck pain are:

  • Injuries — Injuries, both past and present, have the potential to cause significant neck pain. If you’ve ever been a victim of a car accident, sports injury, or another traumatic injury it could be the root of your neck pain.
  • Pinched nerves — Pinched nerves occur when tissue in the body presses or pinches a nerve, causing numbness, tingling, or pain in connected areas of the body. A pinched nerve in the arm or back has the potential to cause pain in the neck.
  • Muscle strains — Muscle strain is another potential cause of neck pain. Overuse, repetitive motions and excessive weight can cause muscle strain.
  • Joint damage or inflammation — Joint damage or inflammation can also cause neck pain. Joint damage can be caused by traumatic injury, and inflammation may come with age and joint disease, like arthritis.

There are several other types of causes that can contribute to neck pain. If you don’t see a cause above that may apply to you, it’s best to speak with a qualified medical professional who can diagnose you.

Treatments for Neck Pain

The types of treatments that may be used for neck pain depend on the severity and root of the pain. Take a moment to read through some of the potential treatment methods that can be used to treat neck pain:

  • Physical therapy — Physical therapy is an effective, minimally invasive and long-lasting treatment solution for neck pain. An experienced physical therapist can help someone with neck pain by identifying the source of their pain and creating a subsequent treatment plan that is designed to fit the unique needs of the individual. One goal of PT is to avoid the need for surgery and corticosteroid injections for treatment.
  • Corticosteroid injections — Corticosteroid injections are another short-term treatment method that can help decrease pain and inflammation. But these injections wear off eventually, usually a few weeks or months after they’re first used. Corticosteroid injections are usually inserted into areas of inflammation, like the joints.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication — Anti-inflammatory medication can be used to temporarily treat pain and inflammation. This type of treatment typically works best for a few hours at a time, and should not be used as a reliable, consistent method for dealing with neck pain.

The benefits and effectiveness of each treatment depend on the cause of the pain and the desired effect. Some treatments may be more effective for longer periods of time than others. If you want to know more about your best option, contact our office today or find a location near you online to schedule an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a health care profession that involves evaluating, diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system. The goal of physical therapy is to focus on movement in order to restore function, minimize pain and improve an individual’s quality of life. Physical therapists often utilize treatment modalities such as therapeutic exercise, soft tissue mobilization, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and other treatments to help achieve these goals.  

Do I Need a Referral?

The state of New York has “direct access” to physical therapy, which means that patients are not legally required to have a physician’s referral to see a physical therapist. However, some insurances may require patients to have a referral or authorization before they will approve payment. Be sure to contact your insurance company beforehand and determine the process that they require.

It’s important to know that if you are under the care of a physician and require physical therapy treatment, you have the freedom to choose your own physical therapy clinic.

Do You Accept My Insurance?

We accept most major insurance coverages. Some of those we accept include Tricare, Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna and workers’ compensation. If you don’t see your insurance company listed above, reach out to us and we’ll let you know if we accept yours. At the time of scheduling your first appointment, we request that you provide us your insurance information so that we may verify your benefits and coverage.  

How Can I Pay for Treatment?

We accept payment via cash, check, flex spending card, and debit or credit card (Visa, Mastercard and Discover). Payment is expected at the time of treatment and typically required during check-in. If you have insurance coverage, there may be a deductible or copay required. 

Before your first visit, we will contact your insurance company to verify your benefits for physical therapy. Some insurance providers have restrictions on specific treatments. As a courtesy, Lattimore Physical Therapy files with your primary insurance as well as any secondary coverage. You will be billed for any cost share (if applicable) after your insurance has paid their portion. 

What Should I Expect During My First Visit?

During your initial visit, your physical therapist will provide you with a thorough 45-minute to one-hour evaluation in a private room. Please be prepared to discuss your needs, your pain, and any lack of mobility or function that you currently have. This evaluation will involve certain range-of-motion, postural and strength tests to help your physical therapist develop a plan unique to you and your condition.Treatment for your injury will begin on the day of your initial visit.  

How Should I Dress?

You should wear loose-fitting clothing during each session with us. Loose-fitting clothing helps us access and move the areas of the body that are being treated. If you have a knee problem, it is best to wear shorts. For a shoulder problem, a tank top is a good choice. For low back problems, a loose-fitting shirt and pants are the best go-tos.

Do I Need to Bring Any MRIs or X-rays That I Have?

Please bring any relevant MRI or X-ray interpretation reports from your physician’s office. However, since X-rays and MRIs aren’t always the most telling, your physical therapist will want to also take into account your medical history and other physical tests and measures. Their goal is to perform an evaluation as best they can using a thorough series of processes.

How Many Visits Will I Need?

The number of visits necessary to complete treatment varies from patient to patient. Some patients only undergo a couple of sessions, while others need several months of care. It most often depends on your diagnosis, the severity of your impairment(s), your past medical history and other similar factors. You will also be reevaluated on a monthly basis. Each time you visit your doctor, we will provide you with a progress report with our professional recommendations.

Can I Bring My Child With Me to My Appointments?

Yes! Our policy allows for children to accompany their parents during appointments.