The neck or cervical spine has to bear the weight of the head, which is around 10-12lbs (the weight of a bowling ball). With injury or prolonged posture (for example sitting at a computer for eight hours), pain, tension, and weakness may develop.
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Leaps and Bounds: Performance Rehabilitation helps patients with many different conditions. Please see the diagram below for information on common conditions we treat and how physical therapy can help you.
Head and Neck
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash can occur during any physical trauma, but is often seen in motor vehicle accidents or as a result of a collision with the ground or another player when playing a sport. The head and spine is whipped back and forth as a result. The muscles in the neck don’t have time to react, and the harsh forces can strain the muscles, ligaments and other tissues. In severe cases, fractures can occur in the bones of the neck (vertebrae).
Due to the shock and trauma initially from the trauma, pain may or may not be present. Whiplash typically feels worse 1–2 days after the injury as inflammation sets in and tissues become swollen. This can lead to headaches, pain with movement, and even numbness / tingling into the upper extremities.
Often, people can have long standing weakness of the neck muscles, leading to future problems, if their whiplash is not fully treated. Strengthening and postural awareness are key to restoring normal function after the injury.
What is Arthritis and Stenosis?
Don’t get suckered into thinking that your neck joints and muscles working thousands of times a day leads to wear and tear and other bony changes in your neck over time. Arthritis and stenosis (bony changes that cause some narrowing of the canal where the nerves exit) are normal processes of aging. In fact, most people have these changes without experiencing any symptoms. So if you’ve been told your pain is being caused by these conditions, it’s more than likely you can experience 100% pain relief and restoration of function.
Now, there are some extreme cases where treatment is not so simple. This can be due to severe bony changes, but it can also be to external factors that are not related to the structures in your neck at all, like stress. So it’s great to work with someone who has a strong understanding of what is contributing to your episode of pain.
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
As a normal part of the aging process, the fluid filled discs between our neck bones (vertebrae) dry out and shrink. However, in some individuals, this can be excessive, leading to a severe loss of height in one or more sections of the neck. This loss of height can cause some bone or nerve sensitivity, and symptoms can range from aching pain in the neck, to radiating pain in the arms, numbness / tingling, and headaches.
What is Herniated or Bulging Disc?
A disc is a jelly like, fluid filled sac that acts as a cushion between the bones of your neck (vertebrae). The fluid center of the disc (nucleus) is held in place by many rings (picture a cross section of a tree trunk). It is common to have situations where the rings become compromised and the fluid middle starts pressing outward to the edges of the disc. This can produce pain in its own right. But additionally, as this occurs, the disc can begin to bulge, which in turn can irritate the nerve roots exiting your spine.
Symptoms can range from localized pain and numbness/tingling to a burning radiating pain and complete lack of sensation. In severe cases, you can experience muscle weakness or loss of muscle control.
What is Radiating Pain?
If you are experiencing radiating pain to the shoulder, arm and even hands, the source of your trouble could be your neck or “cervical spine”. The nerves that supply sensation and movement travel from your neck down your arms. These nerves exit from your spine on both sides supplying the left and right sides respectively. Often, prolonged posture, improper loading, muscle weakness, or injury, can cause the different nerves that exit from your spine to become sensitive. This, in turn, can lead to pain in the area that this nerve supplies.
Symptoms often start off as mild, but can then worsen with time if left unattended. Additionally, you may experience some numbness or tingling as well. In severe cases, a very sensitive nerve can result in loss of muscle function to the area that the nerve supplies. But even in these extreme cases, the signs and symptoms can be reduced rather, oftentimes very quickly. So make sure you get checked out sooner rather than later.
About 70% of Canadians suffer from headaches. There are many different types of headaches and migraines from tension headaches, temporal headaches, cluster headaches, migraines and sinus headaches. While there are many different “triggers” such as alcohol, chocolate, scents and other factors for headaches and migraines, most suffers do have some underlying neck problem that causes their headaches. These are called “cervico-genic headaches”.
Most headaches have a component of stress. When stressed, our neck muscles become tense and ultimately result in pain that can be referred to different areas of your head and face. Along with other triggers, this can start a headache or migraine.
Vertigo and dizziness can be the result of a variety of different factors. One of these is when the calcium crystals from the inner ear labyrinth canals break free. These canals provide feedback about balance to your brain, and when the crystals are floating freely, it can cause vertigo or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).
Dizziness can occur for a variety of reasons, including concussion, disturbance with your vision, or problems with mobility of the neck joints and muscles.
About Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) describes the problems that may occur at the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is where your jaw bone attaches to the skull. It is a complex joint that has to slide forward and drop down in order for your jaw to open. It moves thousands of times a day with talking, eating and any time you move your jaw. The joint has a disc or fluid filled sac within it and has many ligaments and muscles that coordinate movements. TMD can be influence by prolonged postures, improper loading, and muscle imbalances.
What is Poor Posture?
It is still common to think that poor posture is a common source of neck pain. You know the look, the head jutting forward combined with the forward rounding of the shoulders. This can be mild or severe and is thought to be affected by different factors, such as type of work, age, arthritis, and other genetic factors.
However, the biggest factor seems to be the length of time spent in this position, that leads to sensitivity and ultimately pain. Think about how much time you spend looking into a screen and hunched over a desk during a day, week, or even years. The 10–12lbs of your head are pulling forward on your spine that whole time. Now think about pulling your finger back that same amount of time. It would hurt, wouldn’t it?
About Head and Neck Post-surgery Rehab?
Common surgeries of the neck include “cervical fusion” and “discectomy”. In a cervical fusion, one or more bones (vertebrae) are fused in the neck to stabilize the area. This may be due to fractures or for other reasons such as the removal of a disc between the vertebrae “discectomy.”