By Karen Strader, Patient Marketing Manager and Certified Personal Trainer for Advanced Physical Therapy Center.
Like most of the human population, I work at my desk all day. As a certified personal trainer, I know that it is important to get up and walk around as much as possible, which is something I try to do frequently throughout the day. But, because I am human, I tend to forget to do my desk exercises, and I am capable of having bad posture from time-to-time. In doing this daily to my body, when it is time for me to work out, I have to be very cognizant of my form and how much weight I use. Unfortunately, I haven’t always heeded to my own advice. I am now dealing with my second upper trapezius and/or levator scapulae injury, which basically means that I injured my neck.
If this has ever happened to you, you know it can be very painful and getting sleep can be difficult. I do have some tips that have worked for me and things that we do at Advanced Physical Therapy Center to help our patients. Here they are:
- Stop the activity you are doing. Rest the injured area.
- The next thing you can always do is stop by your local physical therapy clinic for an evaluation. We do free consultations, and by law we can see you without a prescription. If you are wanting insurance to pay for physical therapy, you will, most likely, need a prescription from your doctor.
- Ice the area for the first 24-72 hours. It may feel good to put heat on it, but you will make the condition worse. Wait until after 72 hours to use heat. Both heat and cold serve their own purposes. For more information on the uses of heat and cold, refer back to our previous post https://advancedphysicaltherapy.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/cold-vs-heat-which-do-i-use/
- Do not take any NSAID, such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen, products the first 48 hours after injury. You need the inflammation to help heal the area. In the beginning, use acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- I have tried products like Aspercreme with lidocaine. They, unfortunately, did not work for me. I do recommend using Biofreeze or Arnica to help with the pain.
- Do not get a massage. I have learned the hard way with this. Massage to an injured muscle can cause further injury.
- Try to keep the injury still. You could wear a neck brace, but if that is a little impractical for you, I recommend adding a small amount of support with kinesiology tape. Kinesiology tape also helps to speed healing by increasing lymph drainage and removing lactic acid from the injured area. Please don’t just go out and buy any tape from your local sports equipment store. The quality of those products are not always on par with brands used in professional health care settings. It is also hard to know how to apply the tape properly. See your physical therapist for instructions on taping and to pick up a quality kinesiology tape.
- A side-note for sleeping: It is going to be hard to find a comfortable position. Laying down flat is painful with this condition. I have had to lay on my side and rotate sides or lay with a few pillows stacked underneath my neck and shoulders.
- Bottom line … Give it some time. Don’t rush the healing process. You WILL feel better again. If for some reason you are not better in a few days, talk to your doctor or stop by to see us. There maybe something more going on.
- Lastly, talk to your PT about some exercises you can do at your desk or at home to strengthen the neck and shoulder area to prevent future injury. They can also give you tips on proper posture and ergonomics.