How Physical Therapy Helps A Neck Strain Or Sprain

person with neck pain

Physical Therapy: A Supportive Approach for Neck Strain/Sprain


Physical therapy is a vital aspect of treating many medical conditions. It can effectively manage musculoskeletal disorders, assist in injury or illness recovery, and alleviate pain. Physical therapists (PTs) work with individuals to evaluate their current abilities and design personalized treatment plans that enhance their strength, mobility, and overall well-being.

PTs can use physical therapy as a treatment for various conditions, including neck strain and sprain. Let’s dive deeper into how this treatment works and the benefits it provides.

What to Expect at Physical Therapy for Neck Strain/Sprain

When you arrive for your physical therapy session, the PT will start by assessing your current capabilities. This includes evaluating the range of motion in the neck as well as strength, flexibility, posture, and any signs of pain or discomfort. The PT may also evaluate your balance and coordination to determine which areas need focused attention during treatment. This initial assessment helps create a baseline from which progress can be measured over time.

Once the assessment is complete, the PT will provide you with an individualized treatment plan designed specifically for your case of neck strain/sprain. This plan could include exercises to improve range of motion and strength in the neck area as well as posture correction exercises. The PT may also give you additional instructions such as ice or heat application if needed and suggest lifestyle modifications to reduce further strain on the area while improving overall well-being during recovery.

Types of Exercises You Might Do

The type of exercises prescribed by a physical therapist depends on several factors including the severity of injury or condition, current abilities, age and activity level of the patient, etc., but some common types you might do when recovering from neck strain/sprain include:

Range-of-Motion (ROM) Exercises – These exercises are designed to increase flexibility in your neck muscles as well as help improve circulation in the area. They may involve gently moving the head side-to-side or up-and-down slowly while maintaining good posture throughout the movements.

Strengthening Exercises – As your ROM improves over time you may be given exercises that target specific muscle groups in your neck region with light weights or resistance bands to strengthen them up over time. Repetition is key here so consistency is important when doing these types of exercises at home too!

Posture Correction Exercises – Poor posture can lead to more frequent episodes of neck strain/sprain so correcting improper postural habits should be a main focus during physical therapy sessions too! Your PT will have you do various stretching or strengthening activities that target certain muscle groups around your shoulder blades and spine while addressing any underlying weaknesses that could be contributing to poor posture habits as well.

How Long Recovery Takes

Recovery from neck strain/sprain usually takes anywhere from 4-6 weeks depending on severity but can take longer depending on other factors like age or activity level before injury/condition onset etc. A typical course would involve 3-4 visits per week combined with daily at-home exercises prescribed by a physical therapist who specializes in this type of issue – this way there is no guesswork when it comes time for patient self-care after leaving each session! Additionally, most insurance plans now cover some degree of physical therapy so it’s worth checking into what coverage options might be available before starting treatment too!


Physical therapy offers an effective approach to treating issues related to musculoskeletal conditions like neck strain/sprain; nevertheless, it does require dedication both inside and outside of each session to achieve desired results over the shorter amount of time possible – consistency pays off here! With proper guidance from a trained PT combined with the diligent effort put forth by patients themselves, anyone can experience successful recovery all within a reasonable amount of time too!


Does physical therapy help neck strain?

– Physical therapy can greatly assist with neck strain symptoms. If neck pain, stiffness or soreness is affecting daily activities, a physical therapist can help address the root cause of the strain and work on strengthening weak areas.

How long does it take to recover from a neck sprain strain?

– Recovery time for neck sprains may vary, but generally mild to moderate strains can require a week or two of rest and gentle exercise, while severe sprains may take several weeks for recovery.

How does physical therapy work for neck pain?

– Physical therapy can ease pain, stiffness and improve flexibility in the neck region. A physical therapist will typically recommend exercises that help strengthen neck muscles and provide guidance to improve posture and alignment.

How do you rehab a sprained neck?

– Rehabbing a sprained neck typically involves stretching and strengthening exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist. Exercises aimed at improving flexibility and range of motion of the neck can greatly aid recovery.

What not to do with a sprained neck?

– It is best to avoid high-impact activities or those that require sudden, jarring movements. Anything that may further stress the neck should be avoided.

Should I stretch a sprained neck?

– It is best to wait until swelling subsides before stretching a sprained neck. Gentle stretching can be done under the guidance of a physical therapist to promote circulation and mobility.

What makes a neck strain worse?

– Straining the neck occurs when muscles are stretched or torn beyond their limit. Poor posture, forward head position or repeated stress from daily activities like computer work, can contribute to making a neck strain worse.

Should you massage a sprained neck?

– It is best to avoid massaging a sprained neck in the first few days following injury. Once swelling subsides, massage can be applied gently to improve circulation and promote relaxation.

Is massage good for neck sprain?

– Massage can be beneficial for reducing tension and promoting relaxation in the neck muscles, helping to alleviate pain and stiffness due to neck sprain.

Is physical therapy worth it for neck pain?

– Physical therapy can be worth it for neck pain, as it addresses the root cause of pain and aims to promote healing rather than just masking symptoms. A physical therapist can provide guidance on stretching, strengthening, and posture to reduce pain and prevent future injuries.

How long does physical therapy take for neck pain?

– The duration of physical therapy for neck pain may depend on the severity of the pain. Mild to moderate neck pain may require a few weeks of physical therapy, while severe neck pain may require months of therapy.

What position is best for a strained neck?

– The position where the neck is supported and relaxed with the shoulders back is generally the best for a strained neck. Additionally, sleeping with a supportive pillow can help alleviate pain and discomfort in the neck region.


1) What Is Physiotherapy? Accessed June 8th, 2021

2) Benko N., Maiorana A., O’Driscoll P., et al (2018). Neck Pain: Causes And Treatment Options For Relief Accessed June 8th, 2021

3) Williams S., Evans R., Metcalfe H., et al (2017). Exercise prescription for patients with musculoskeletal disorders: US Clinical Practice Guidelines https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih