Relieving Back and Neck Pain in Those Hard to Reach Places
Has this ever happened to you? You're in the middle of your everyday activities when suddenly - zing! - You feel something pull in your neck or back. When the pain sets in, you start to ask yourself, "How did this happen?" and "What do I do now?" Most likely, the cause of your pain is muscle strain. It's one of the most common causes of back and neck pain and is often the result of excessive physical demands on the back.
How did this happen?
Muscles help support the spine, hold it upright, and control movement during rest and activity. Several layers of fibrous tissue, called fascia, cover the muscles. When muscles are injured or inflamed, they become painful and frequently shorten to prevent further injury. This spasm may be perceived as a knot or bundle and effectively reduces a muscle's range of motion. "Trigger points" are muscles in spasm that become very sensitive to touch.
What do I do now?
It's important to determine the exact cause of your pain and to rule out a more severe injury or other condition that may have similar symptoms. For this reason, people with severe back or neck pain, especially if it lasts more than a few days, should see their doctor. If not treated properly, a cycle of increased muscle spasm, pain, loss of motion, and function can result.
Initial treatment of back and neck muscle pain usually includes bed rest and pain medications. Your physician may also refer you to a physical therapist, who will help you recondition and restore strength and flexibility to the injured muscle through therapeutic exercise. Your physical therapy may also involve the use of a variety of other treatment methods such as heat/cold therapy, massage, ultrasound, or joint mobilization.
Even after your physical therapy is complete, you should continue to do the exercises at home. This will keep your spine healthy and help prevent future injuries.
Deep Muscle Massage at Home
For instances of occasional muscle pain, you may want to include deep muscle massage into your regular spine health routine. Talk to your physical therapist about how to find a massage therapist with expertise in deep muscle massage in your area. There are also a number of products available that allow you to self-administer a deep muscle massage, particularly in those hard to reach areas of the neck and back.
Recently, we had the opportunity to evaluate a new device called the Theracane, available through Relax The Back. This is a high quality fiberglass cane with a large rounded hook that resembles a Shepherd's staff with two straight handles oriented at 90-degrees to the main shaft. Located about the cane are six round knobs that serve as contact points to administer a deep pressure massage.
Theracane from Relax The Back
We found the device surprisingly easy to use while self-administering an effective massage, particularly in hard to reach areas of the back, like between the shoulder blades. Fortunately, at the time of our evaluation, one examiner was personally experiencing pain in his left shoulder and neck. He found the Theracane was quite useful in providing effective short-term relief from muscle pain.
Further, Relax The Back provides a 15-page instruction manual, complete with 55 detailed drawings. The manual demonstrates how to use the Theracane to administer pressure to the trigger points of the chest, neck, shoulders, back, hips and legs using one of the six specified knobs.
The Theracane represents an inexpensive way to administer a deep pressure massage. It is small enough to be packed in any roll-on luggage, thus its portability is a welcomed tool for the weary business traveler. Best of all, it allows patients to actively participate in an activity that can produce pain-relieving results. This may impart a certain sense of control or independence to the individual afflicted with pain.