Neck & Shoulder Pain

Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Physical Therapy for a Stiff Neck

 

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A stiff neck can be painful and hard to move. These physical therapy stretches & exercises for neck stiffness should help relieve the pain and tightness.

The first movement to help with a stiff neck is a chin tuck. These are a great way to reset your neck muscles, and get your head back into a good posture.

The next few movements you will use a towel to help you stretch. SNAGS (Sustained Natural Apophyseal Glides) help mobilize the neck, and work great when you have neck stiffness. You can also use the towel for chin tucks with extension movements, and chin tucks with head turns side to side, or cervical rotation.

The last two stretches are for your levator scapulae and your upper trapezius. Both of these muscles hold a lot of stress, and can make the neck very stiff when they are tight.

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5 Best Cervical Stenosis Exercises & Stretches

Cervical stenosis, or spinal stenosis of the neck, is a common cause of neck pain. Basically it's a narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck area or upper part of the spine.

Cervical stenosis puts pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves in the neck causing neck pain.

The first set of exercises for cervical stenosis will combine isometrics with active range of motion (AROM). Isometric exercises are a great way to activate the muscles without movement. This will also help with relaxing the muscles to get more movement, so adding the AROM afterwards really helps gain motion.

Next are chin tucks. These are one of my favorite exercises/stretches for neck and shoulder pain. They also help with posture to “reset” the neck muscles, and decrease painful spasms.

Finally you will do full stretches of the upper traps, levator scapulae, and anterior scalenes. All these muscles around the neck are very important in proper movement. Also, when they are tight, they can cause a lot of pressure on the cervical spine.

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7 Best Frozen Shoulder Exercises & Stretches

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that causes stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint from adhesion build up. These stretches & exercises should help relieve frozen should pain.

For a frozen shoulder, signs and symptoms typically begin gradually, worsen over time and then resolve, usually within one to three years. Stretches and exercises can help speed up the recovery time.

First, using a pulley to help get your motion passively, can be very helpful. Since you are able to completely relax for the stretch, you can often get more motion.

The next stretches are called pendulums. For a frozen shoulder, using a small weight in your hand helps open up the shoulder joint. You can also rock front to back and side to side. It’s a great way to relax all your shoulder muscles.

A scapular or shoulder squeeze will help open up your chest area, and also strengthen your upper back muscles. You can add a resistive band by doing rows. Make sure you add the squeeze at the end.

One of the toughest motions is internal rotation behind your back. Using a towel to stretch, will get you much more motion.

If you have a Swiss (or stability) ball, using it to roll out your arm will not only stretch out your shoulder, but it can also work the stability of your shoulder. You can also do these slides on a table or counter top.

The last stretch is a shoulder flexion stretch using the ground for assistance. Get on the ground and sit on your feet in a child’s pose position. If you can’t get on the ground or your knees hurt too much to bend them, you can slide your arm on a table or countertop. You will slide your arm forward with your thumb facing upward towards the ceiling and lean your body forward until you feel a stretch.

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AC Shear Test

The AC Shear Test is used on the AC (acromioclaviular) joint. This is where the clavicle and the acromion come together. If the joint is sprained or separated, it can cause a lot of pain and dysfuntion in the shoulder.

The test can yield both false positives & false negatives, so use it in combination with other diagnostic tools.

To test it, place each palm of your hand around the joint. One over the clavicle, and the other over the spine of the scapula, and then squeeze together. Pain and instability indicate a positive test. However, pain can also be positive for other issues including shoulder bursitis, tendonitis, or a rotator cuff issue.

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