Clinical Question – Stress

When I have a stressful day, why do I have more neck and back pain?

When stressed, people tend to contract their muscles.  For example, people tend to elevate their shoulders toward their ears when stressed, thus causing increased tightness at the muscle on top of the shoulder (Upper Trapezius).  This leads to increased muscle tightness, which in turn can cause more pain.

Regarding physical therapy of your neck and back.  If you continue to have increased stress in your life while receiving physical therapy, this will lengthen the amount of time it takes to have a successful treatment outcome.  During therapy, the therapist will provide you with techniques to prevent further tightening of your neck and back musculature.

Clinical Question – Length of Treatment

How often and how long do I need physical therapy?

Depending on your condition, the therapist will give you an approximate timeline.  On average, physical therapy is usually 2 days a week for approximately 4-6 weeks.  Patients that have an extensive past medical history might take longer to heal; therefore, requiring a longer duration of physical therapy.  Examples that affect the duration include: diabetes, age, smoking, history of slow healing wounds, malnutrition, previous injury to the area being treated, and previous surgery to the area or limb being treated.

Clinical Question – Home Exercise Programs

Once I finish physical therapy, will I have to continue doing my home exercise program forever?

Once you are discharged from physical therapy, the therapist will provide you with a progressive home exercise program to maintain the gains you have achieved during treatment.  Compared to the exercise program you receive while in treatment, it will not be as frequent, nor will it consist of as many exercises.  You will not have to do these exercises for a lifetime; however, if your symptoms return, you always have the exercises to get back on track.