What is neck and spine physical therapy and rehabilitation?

Neck or spine injuries need rehabilitation. Physical therapy is part of that rehabilitation. The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain and strengthen your body. This helps you get safely back to your daily activities.

What to expect during physical therapy

Your physical therapist evaluates your condition on your first visit. Then, you’ll come up with goals. The physical therapist creates a treatment plan that includes a combination of techniques and exercises. The plan will help you to gain back joint movement, increase healing time and improve muscle function in your neck and spine. 

For neck pain, your therapist may include the following tests:

  • Range-of-motion tests to see how far your neck moves
  • Strength tests to see where the pain and weakness starts
  • Palpitation tests to see where your muscles are tight or sore

Treatment for neck pain may include traction, posture correction, joint mobilization, massage, heat and ice.

For upper or lower back pain or injury, the therapist checks the area to see how much you can move and to learn more about your pain. The tests for your back may include the following:

  • Repeated movements to test for pain
  • Strength tests for your leg and torso muscles
  • Musculoskeletal exams to assess movement and posture

There are a variety of treatments for back conditions. They may include the following:

  • Steroids
  • Ultrasound
  • Stretching exercises 
  • Aquatic treatments
  • Heat and ice techniques

Your physical therapist will give you exercises to do at home. Daily exercise is the key to getting back to an active lifestyle.

What to expect during rehabilitation

Your physician may suggest a neck or back brace. Pain medication can also help manage discomfort. Sleeping on a cervical pillow that keeps your neck still while you sleep may also help. Using a combination of techniques helps you recover quicker.

Common conditions that require physical therapy and rehabilitation

Physical therapy helps many common neck and spinal conditions, including:

  • Scoliosis 
  • Whiplash 
  • Osteoporosis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Lumbar stenosis
  • Cervical stenosis
  • Neck strain and sprain
  • Degenerative disc diseases
  • Headaches

Follow your physical therapy plan to improve your mobility. You’ll be able to bend, walk, sit and squat easier as you go through rehabilitation.

Mercy Health locations that can treat you