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Tell me how to get rid of my neck pain.

Q: I've had neck pain for years so I Googled 'neck pain' and your site came up first. Without seeing me, what can you tell me about the best way to get out of this hole I'm in?

A: It is always a good idea to see a physician and make sure there is nothing serious going on. Infection, tumor, and fracture are the three most important things to rule out. If it turns out you have mechanical pain (caused by soft tissue structures), then you have several options.

Treatment choices for chronic biomechanical neck pain are broad and range from Physical Therapy to massage therapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, and much more. The Physical Therapist has many tools available to help including electrotherapy, traction, spinal manipulation, soft tissue mobilization, and exercise.

And as it turns out, according to the latest research results, exercise provides the best results. Now there are different types of exercise and even this aspect has been studied. Low-dose exercise comprised of gentle range-of-motion exercises has been compared with high-dose (high load, high repetition) exercise. Both produce the desired results of reduced pain and improved function, but the high-dose exercise still comes out on top as being more effective.

When patient results are compared between a home program of exercise and a supervised exercise program, patients prefer (and do better) with the supervised program. The personal guidance of one-on-one is still a powerful motivator that helps keep people on track.

Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, seek out the services of a local therapist. Give yourself plenty of time to recover slowly. You didn't get this way overnight and you aren't likely to recover without a little time and effort on your part. Most people say it is well worth it to dig in and get serious about the program.

Reference: Roni Evans, DC, MS, et al. Supervised Exercise With and Without Spinal Manipulation Performs Similarly and Better Than Home Exercise for Chronic Neck Pain. In Spine. May 15, 2012. Vol. 37. No. 11. Pp. 903-914.

Dynamics Physical Therapy provides services for Physical Therapy in Northern Virginia.

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