April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Over the last week we’ve had multiple patients say to us, “I slept funny and I now can’t move my neck. What is this pain in my neck and can you fix me?”

Waking up with a stiff neck can be unexpected and very inconvenient. Sleeping in an awkward position, tossing or turning throughout the night or sleeping with a pillow that doesn’t offer enough support can stretch and stress muscles, ligaments and joints beyond their normal limits and contribute to tightening of the neck. Stomach sleeping also can contribute to neck tightening due to keeping the neck in one position, and specifically a rotated position, for a long period of time. Physical Therapy is one way to fix your neck. A Physical Therapy session will include education on correct sleeping positions. We often recommend the mckenzie cervical roll placed in a pillow to support the natural curve of the neck. There are other pillow options if that doesn’t work for certain individuals. There could also be some postural positions that are being performed during the day that could be exacerbating and contributing to the neck pain. Whether at the computer or watching TV on a soft couch or in bed. A physical therapy session will include education on sitting with a neutral spine, in addition to setting up a workstation correctly to have less stress on muscles and joints of the neck. One of these examples is making sure the computer screen is at eye level.

What are some gentle stretches that can be performed during the day?

Upper Trap Stretch: Holding Chair and Head

While sitting in a chair, hold the seat with one hand and place your other hand on your head to assist in bending your head to the side as shown. Bend your head towards the opposite side of the hand that is holding the chair seat. You should feel a stretch to the side of your neck. Hold stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times, three times a day.

Bilateral External Rotation: Pizza Carry

With the back against the wall, bend both elbows to 90 degrees, palms facing the ceiling. Slowly bring the hands away from you, keeping elbows in contact with the body. As you do this, squeeze the shoulder blades and avoid “hiking” up your shoulders. Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times, three times a day.

Cervical Retraction

Slowly draw your head back so that your ears line up with your shoulders as if you are moving away from a dog licking your face. Repeat 10 times; can be up to six times a day depending on the individual.

What can be done upon awakening?

At times placing some modalities of ice or heat to the neck, whichever gives greater relief, can be helpful. Schedule an appointment with a physical therapist where no prescription is needed within the first 30 days of treatment.

How can Physical Therapy help at Prime Orthopedic Rehabilitation?

At times there may be underlying neck-joint dysfunction where a joint is not moving as well as it should. This is called a facet joint dysfunction where the joint is not allowing the neck to flex, extend, rotate or side bend correctly. Here at Prime Orthopedic Rehabilitation, we believe in manual therapy and re-education of the joints and muscles in your neck. We will evaluate each of the facet joint’t mobility and correct the joint restriction at every level to restore the available neck motion in addition to loosening up the tight muscles around the joints and reeducating the muscles to support the neck.

If you wake up with a stiff neck that isn’t resolving, call Prime Orthopedic Rehabilitation for an appointment at 201-503-7173


 

Jessica Lowy, DPT, CMTPT, DN, Mckenzie A-D, Schroth Therapist and Michal Porath, MPT, Mckenzie A-D, Schroth Therapist are owners of Prime Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Tenafly. They treat necks and backs in their clinic, in addition to general orthopedic and post surgical patients. Call (201) 503-7173 for an appointment.

 

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