When is someone with neck pain not a candidate for PT?
There are conditions that may result in neck pain and/or headaches that are medical emergencies and not candidates for PT. These are cervical artery dissections (stroke), upper cervical instability and cervical myelopathy.
Neck pain with headaches
Neck pain often times occurs with headaches which maybe on one side or both sides of the head and are precipitated/aggravated by neck movements and/or sustained positions/postures.
Neck pain and motor control impairments
While neck pain is the most common sign, patients frequently have dizziness, nausea, headaches, concentration difficulties in addition to neck pain. This often occurs following motor vehicle accidents (whiplash) and sports injuries, even when several years ago.
Neck pain and mobility deficits
We often see patients with both neck pain and difficulty moving (often turning) their necks. The first question we ask is whether this person truly stiff or are their muscles guarding as a protective mechanism, limiting neck motion?
What is causing my neck pain?
For the spine, there is not always a clear black and white answer of the specific anatomical structure causing neck symptoms and patients often get hung up on wanting a firm anatomical diagnosis.
Neck and Arm Pain
It is common that we see patients who have neck pain that starts from their neck and goes all the way down their arm. Patients often describe this pain as sharp, shooting or lancinating. In some cases, numbness, tingling and pins & needles will be present.