Neck Pain Treatment in Toronto

Neck Pain Treatment

Neck pain & HeadacheNeck pain causes sharp pain and muscle aches to develop in your neck. It hinders your ability to move your head and the constant pain leads to headaches. Neck pain occurs when your neck joints become stiff or lock in place. This causes the protective muscle of the neck and shoulders to spasm.

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Click on links below to learn about causes, symptoms, and treatments including home remedies for neck pain.

What are the common causes of neck pain?

Neck pain can be acute or chronic. Acute neck pain is usually because of an injury, overuse, whiplash, nerve impingement, or inflammation. Chronic neck pain is commonly due to muscle weakness, poor posture.

  • Muscle strain, sprains
  • Whiplash injuries due to a car accident, fall or head trauma
  • Overuse injuries such as repetitive neck movement
  • Poor posture causing muscle spasm or active trigger points
  • Rigidness of thoracic spine
  • Facet joint inflammation
  • Degenerative disc disease (DDD)
  • Nerve impingement
  • Bulging or herniated disc
  • Fractures

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What is the best treatment for neck pain & headache?

Proper treatment starts with finding the root cause of the neck pain. Myofascial neck pain which is neck pain due to the involvement of muscles and other soft tissue of neck area is best treated by a combination of physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy and acupuncture to manage pain. A good treatment program always includes education and progressive strengthening and mobility exercises. Physiotherapists and chiropractors commonly use a combination of manual techniques, education, and exercises to treat neck pain.

Bracing is hardly indicated unless there is severe hypermobility (moving too much) of neck spinal joints.

Prolonged nerve impingement due to facet involvement or disc herniation can be the cause of muscle weakness and severe pain. If more conservative treatments such as physiotherapy, NSAID medication do not provide long-lasting relief, then an injection may be considered by your doctor. Accidents and falls can result in neck fractures and spinal instability in which case surgical procedures are indicated.

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What is Whiplash injury?

Whiplash is a neck and upper back injury due to acceleration/deceleration. It often happens as a result of a car accident or falls.  When the head moves in one direction and is quickly pulled back in the opposite direction (such as when a person is rear-ended in an automobile), injury occurs to the soft tissues and leads to muscles strain, ligament sprain and other soft tissue injuries to the neck and upper back. Occasionally it can cause nerve damage which contributes to pain radiating to arm and hand.

In addition to the neck, whiplash can affect muscles of the head, jaw, shoulders, chest, and arms. Symptoms can arise long after an accident has occurred. Common signs of whiplash include pain, headaches, jaw pain, and dizziness. In more severe cases of whiplash injuries, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness can occur.

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What are the symptoms of neck nerve impingement?

Neck impingement usually occurs when herniated disk material or arthritic bone spurs cause nerve compression. The most common cause of this impingement is degenerative changes in the spine that occur as part of the aging process, or due to injuries. Neck nerve impingement causes pain radiating to the arm which may or may not be associated with tingling or numbness. Prolonged nerve impingement may cause arm/hand muscle weakness.

Some symptoms of neck impingement include:

  • Neck pain that radiates to arm and may be associated with numbness or tingling
  • Decreased sensation in hands
  • Muscle weakness and decreased hand muscle control

Clinical tests, MRI and CT scans can confirm nerve compression. Patients with neck impingement generally tend to improve over time with conservative treatments such as physiotherapy and in rare cases, surgery may be indicated.

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What is cervicogenic headache?

Cervicogenic headache is a headache that originates from neck structures. This can be due to neck muscle spasm, active trigger points and most of the time it is experienced after a whiplash injury or with chronic neck pain. Cervicogenic Headaches are classified as a secondary headache and can also be caused by weakness of neck muscles, arthritis, or neck spinal joints lack of mobility.

Most of the time, cervicogenic headache starts at the base of the head and skull and then diffuses to the front and sides. Many times patients report some degree of strain on the eyes or feeling eye fatigue. Unlike migraines, headaches originating from the neck do not switch sides.

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Common Treatment options for neck pain & headache

  • Manual therapy by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopathic practitioner to improve neck and upper back joint mobility
  • Acupuncture  or dry needling to treat pain and inflammation
  • Massage therapy to release muscle tension, improve blood circulation and mobility
  • Cold or heat
  • Laser Therapy, Ultrasound Therapy, Shock Wave Therapy in different stages to assist in tissue healing
  • Rehabilitation exercises focused on neck stabilization and postural muscle retraining
  • TENS, and IFC modalities may be used to manage pain

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Best exercises to relieve neck pain

Best neck exercises are a combination of mobility and strengthening exercises as well as strengthening postural muscle. A good exercise program starts with an assessment of the root cause of pain and is progressive. Exercises can start with daily stretching and mobility exercises, lightweight exercises using elastic bands can be gradually added. A series of deep neck muscle strengthening exercises are an important addition to the program. These can be completed with eyes open or eyes closed to gradually improve muscle control.

Consult with your physiotherapist for the best exercise regimen for neck pain.

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Neck pain home remedies

  • Applying heat or cold
  • Over the counter pain medication
  • Massage
  • Exercise

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When to worry about neck pain?

In very rare cases, neck pain is due to a more serious cause and maybe a sign of cancer, infection or an autoimmune disease. Occasionally, neck pain could be because of a structural instability when there is a tear of the ligaments holding spinal joints together. Neck structural instability should not be taken lightly as it can cause compression or damage to the spinal cord or to an important blood vessel supplying blood to the brain.

  1. It is more than 6 weeks that you have experienced neck pain and your neck pain is not going away despite doing all the right things and seeking treatment
  2. Neck pain is severe and/or is not improving, or actually getting worse
  3. Numbness and weakness of arm(s) and hand(s) which is getting worse
  4. You had a neck injury
  5. Moving your neck causes you dizziness, blurred or double vision (in this case there is no need to wait several weeks before visiting your doctor)
  6. You had an accident severe enough that may cause a fracture and you are in severe pain

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Physiotherapists & chiropractors treat neck pain & headaches

At Physiomobility, we have a team of qualified professionals who offer specialized treatment for various musculoskeletal conditions including neck pain. Whether your neck pain is due to an accident, is work-related or is due to a chronic condition such as Fibromyalgia, our team can help you to manage pain, help you to get stronger and teach you how to prevent recurrent pain. We will provide you a personalized treatment, offering you relief from pain and discomfort and enabling you to get back to your usual activities quickly.

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Physiomobility continues to remain open and is not part of the lockdown. We continue to have rigorous disinfection policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of our community and are open for patient in-person visits with all of our practitioners.

Virtual appointments are available and encouraged for those who are at a heightened risk of illness.

We remain focused on our quality of care & our continued commitment to helping our patients feel their best. For further assistance, you can contact us at 416-444-4800 during our opening hours. 

The Physiomobility Team