A physiotherapist’s tips on how to manage back and neck pain

Going through a bout of back and neck pain? Whether you’ve got a stiff neck or find it hard to bend your back without experiencing some pain, your local WA physiotherapist may be able to help you  identify the causes and find a solution to your pain.

Understand what’s causing your pain

In order to find an effective treatment for your pain and address any underlying causes, you may want to book an appointment with a physiotherapist to get a proper examination. 

Possible causes for your back and neck pain may include:

Repetitive movements and postures.

If you do manual labour, or drive trucks and other vehicles for prolonged periods, you may experience some pain.

Studies have found that professional drivers are at a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal pain as a result of prolonged sitting, whole body vibration, awkward posture and repetitive actions.

While awkward posture plays into it, a huge part of managing and reducing pain can be ensuring that you’re moving regularly and cultivating a more positive and constructive approach to your pain.

Incorrect desk set-up.

A common one for office workers, your desk, chair, and computer screens may be set up too high, too low, or angled a certain way that forces you to hunch over or twist your neck unnecessarily.

Outside of fixing your work setup, an active approach to your pain is often a great treatment. Many people fear being active when they’re in pain and default to rest; in some cases, rest can actually make the pain worse.

Evidence suggests that resistance exercises can be effective for decreasing pain in office workers. Stay active during your work day, and make sure you keep moving where possible.

Back and neck injuries.

While not always obvious, you may actually have injured your back and neck through incidents like whiplash, which may occur during a vehicle accident.

Emotional stress.

Pain is always real and never in your head. But what happens in your head has very real consequences on your body. Depression, stress or anxiety, even when they are a consequence of the pain, can put fuel on fire.

You may notice that after a long, stressful day, your pain tends to increase. Putting your health first, and making sure you stay active and positive, can go a long way towards alleviating your pain.

Make the appropriate adjustments to your lifestyle habits and environment

Based on what your physiotherapist diagnoses as the cause, they may recommend some changes to your home and work life, as well as other activities you participate in where possible to reduce your pain. For example:

Taking more regular rest breaks at work.

Make sure you are taking enough breaks to avoid putting too much strain on yourself or staying in the same position for too long. Moving is integral for your pain management.

Adjusting your typical movements or work desk set-up.

One of the easiest treatments for your pain could simply involve being mindful of how you bend and lift objects to avoid putting pressure on your back, or requesting an ergonomic chair at work that you can adjust to the right height.

Finding ways to manage your stress.

Talking to a loved one or therapist about what’s on your mind is a good way to unload stress. Exercising and keeping up a healthy diet will also help you destress and allow your body to recover.

Changing the way you look at your pain.

Talking to a loved one or therapist about what’s on your mind is a good way to unload stress. Exercising and keeping up a healthy diet will also help you destress and allow your body to recover.

Studies have found that positive beliefs about managing one’s own pain are associated with greater physical functioning, pain intensity and disability.

Consider seeking treatment from a licensed physiotherapist

Ultimately, there could be one or multiple causes for your neck and back pain, and it’s important to not feel anxious or apprehensive towards your pain and its management. Making sense of your pain, movement, and a positive outlook, can be a very key part of pain management and injury recovery.

Beyond managing your symptoms at home with short-term pain relief, seeing a physiotherapist may be a good option for you – particularly if the pain you are experiencing is starting to interfere with your quality of life.

Based on your physiotherapist’s assessment, they could prescribe treatments such as:

  • Physical therapy to reduce pain and inflammation, which can include treatments such as heat therapy; applying ice packs to pain areas; or performing massages.
  • A tailored exercise program and movements that targets and helps restore your neck and back muscles’ strength and function.

In some cases, they may also write a referral for you to see other specialists. 

Looking for a local physiotherapist in Bunbury? Get in touch with Brecken Health Care to book an appointment with one of our Bunbury physiotherapists today.