Written by Jay Correia, PT, DPT, ATC, and Clinical Director at Ridgefield, CT.
Several months ago, Professional Physical Therapy (Pro PT) patient, Dan, was experiencing severe neck pain that started to radiate down his arm. He, as many people are these days, is sitting at his computer at home for in excess of 12 hours per day up to 6 days per week. This can cause unwanted pain and irritation and physical therapy can not only help heal and prevent pain now, but in the future as well!
Assessing the Condition
Dan’s symptoms worsened significantly after about a month and when he noticed he could not do push-ups, it raised his concern enough to call Pro PT.
He had already gone to a neurosurgeon recommended by his primary care doctor and was waiting for MRI results when he called for an appointment. He came into the clinic for a complimentary injury screening and we noted C7 radiculopathy (an apparent pinched/aggravated nerve in his neck causing profound pain down his arm). Due to the extensive pain, Dan was advised to inquire about a short course of oral steroids with his PCP. This permitted about 30% reduction in symptoms. His MRI came back proving a severely herniated disc and fusion surgery was recommended by his surgeon. With much thought and consideration, Dan decided to give physical therapy a try.
Dan’s Treatment Plan at Professional
The team at Pro PT customized the following recovery plan, specifically for Dan.
- Manual Therapy: Manual Therapy techniques were utilized to improve joint mobility in his neck and upper back. They were also intended to improve overall joint spacing in his neck. Techniques were used with the patient laying on both his stomach and back and performed within a pain free range of motion. More advanced soft tissue and joint mobility techniques were used on both sides of his neck and back, as the patient progressed with the program.
- Therapeutic Exercise: Stretching for the neck and the upper back in all directions. Various postures and angles were utilized to target problematic areas and painful spots. Dan was encouraged to perform frequently throughout the day as needed.
- Neuromuscular Re-Education
- Tricep Muscle Training: Strengthening for the triceps muscle in the posterior upper arm on both sides. Specifically, pushing exercises like wall and table push-ups were utilized to encourage triceps muscle activation and strength.
- Postural Training: Thera-Band exercises against wall to encourage posterior thoracic muscle activation, reduce forward head and rounded shoulder posture and encourage upright posture in sitting and standing positions.
- Therapeutic Activity: Chest press on cable column to incorporate multi joint movement patterns for improved functional tolerance. Progression of push-ups from wall to table, to bench to floor.
- Mechanical traction: Use of low-medium weights at the beginning and end of each treatment session (progressing to reduced frequency and performing only at end of each treatment session as symptoms subsided).
- Electrical Stimulation: Target lower cervical and upper thoracic spine to reduce muscle guarding and spasm and to reduce pain at the end of the treatment sessions.
Dan’s Successful Results
With consistent communication between Dan and his doctors, constant monitoring of Dan’s neurologic status, and an individualized recovery plan by our Ridgefield Clinic Director Jay Correia, an excellent outcome was achieved. Dan was able to escape pain and is back to enjoying life. This positive experience also led Dan to refer a family member in need of physical therapy to Professional Physical Therapy.
Hear it from Dan:
“It wouldn’t be fair to say that my experience at Professional Physical Therapy exceeded my expectations, because frankly I didn’t know what to expect. I was constantly in a great deal of pain, and I was in despair having been told that I needed surgery for my neck. Physical therapy became for me a last ditch effort – something I knew was the responsible thing to try – but I was ready at any moment to call it off and go for surgery just to finally and quickly put an end to the pain. And the results weren’t immediate, so the temptation to quit was high. But I stuck with it because I trusted the people in the organization and above all I had hope. And then slowly, the results came – in little moments. The first session that ended with the thought: I might actually feel a little better. The first morning with a few hours before the pain set in. The first day that ended with a revelation: there was no pain today! So now that I am pain-free from an injury that just a few months ago had me miserable and desperate and planning for surgery, I can say the Professional PT didn’t exceed my expectations. It exceeded my hope.” – Patient, Dan W.
We hope that testimonials from individuals like Dan provide inspiration and encouragement. Here at Pro PT, we believe in treating our patients, not just their injuries. We dedicate our working lives to helping patients heal and to improve and restore mobility.
As a patient, you can expect an individualized recovery plan, using the most state-of-the-art technology and practices to get you back to enjoying life. If you’re in need of physical therapy or wish to consult with one of our skilled physical therapists, visit Professional Physical Therapy.