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Head and Neck


Neck Pain

Most neck pain is associated with poor posture combined with age-related wear and tear. We live in a time where we spend much of our time hunched over a computer or looking down at our phone there is a much greater incidence of neck pain. This poor posture causes the muscles in the neck to tighten leading to reduced range of motion and can contribute to osteoarthritis, degeneration,stenosis, nerve pain, and chronic headaches.

How Physical Therapy Helps

We will perform a thorough evaluation to determine the cause of the pain looking at muscle weakness, range of motion, posture, and alignment in order to create a plan of care to reduce pain and correct dysfunction. With gentle hands on therapy, special exercises and modalities such as electrical stimulation, we can relieve your pain, restore motion and get you back to activities quickly without neck pain.


Whiplash-associated disorders

describe a range of neck-related clinical symptoms following a vehicle accident or acceleration-deceleration injury, which can occur in contact sports. Whiplash symptoms will include symptoms such as pain, stiffness, muscle spasm and headache, in the absence of a fracture. Early intervention recommendations are rest, pain relief and basic stretching and stretching exercises. With many structures in the neck being vulnerable with this type of injury it is very important to have a thorough evaluation to determine the extent of the injuries involved.

How Physical Therapy Helps

First and foremost pain and inflammation will need to be reduced in order to determine the extent of the injuries sustained. Once pain and inflammation are reduced we can begin to work with the soft tissues and vertebral structures to restore range of motion and further reduce symptoms. Your plan of care will also consist of specific exercises to regain balance and restore strength in order to support the healing process.

Headaches and Migraines

Headaches are prevalent in today's world with over 45 million Americans suffering from chronic headaches. There are many different types of headaches and migraines from tension headaches, temporal headaches, cluster headaches, migraines and sinus headaches. While there are many different “triggers” for headaches and migraines, most people do have some underlying neck problem that causes their headaches. These are called “cervicogenic headaches”.

Headaches and migraines are often spasms of the arteries in the scalp or base of the neck triggering abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This can cause a variety of symptoms depending on where this is occurring in the head. Most headaches have a component of stress. When stressed, our neck muscles become tense for a long period of time on a chronic basis, and this will lead to a cascade of symptoms and along with other triggers, this can start a headache or migraine. It is why many headache and migraine sufferers have symptoms later on in the day.

How Physical Therapy Helps

If you are suffering from chronic headaches or migraines we can help. We examine for many different factors that can be adding to the causes of your headache or migraine. We look for correct alignment, posture, muscle strength of the neck, upper back and shoulders, joint movement in the neck and much more. If there are limitations in movement or strength in the neck or upper back, this will be addressed to restore your normal mobility, increases blood flow in the area, reducing the common spasms that can occur, and train you on exercises and techniques that you can use to prevent future occurrences. Our goal is to get to the root of the problem to reduce the frequency quickly and resolve the issue completely.

Radiating Pain

If you are experiencing radiating pain to the shoulder, arm and even hands, the source of your trouble could be your neck or “cervical spine”. The nerves that supply sensation and movement travel from your neck down your arms. These nerves exit from your spine on both sides supplying the left and right sides respectively. Often with poor posture, poor alignment, muscle weakness or injury, the structure of the spine can change. This can lead to a narrowing of the holes where the different nerves exit from your spinal cord, out of the neck to the shoulders and upper extremities. These holes (foramen) depend on the proper alignment and movement of each level of joints in your neck.

Symptoms often start off as a mild, occasional tingling to certain areas of the shoulder, arm or hand. It can then worsen to pain and even numbness. This does require medical attention, so call us for an evaluation immediately and we will coordinate with your physician. Most symptoms can be reduced quickly. However, the time it takes to reduce symptoms depends on how long and to the extent the symptoms have been occurring.

How physical therapy helps

Physical therapy is an important part of recovery from radiating shoulder, arm and hand pain. We will work with you to determine what the cause of the compression on the nerve structures. Often, there is a limitation in movement in the joints above or below the affected area of the neck. By improving neck joint mobility, posture, alignment and muscle strength, support and stability can be returned to your neck. This reduces pressure on the affected nerve and allows it to heal, resolving symptoms. Call us today to discover how we can help you quickly resolve your radiating shoulder or arm pain.

What is Forward Head Syndrome?

Forward head syndrome is extremely common in today's society and describes a condition where, due to changes in posture, the head juts forward actually shortening the back structures of the neck while lengthening in the front . This can be mild or severe and is affected by different factors such as type of work, age, arthritis and genetic factors.

Due to prolonged sitting, poor posture with work, working at a computer, looking down at your phone, sitting at home in poor posture watching TV and a host of other common poor postures, changes in your spine can occur over time. Often, we do not realize how much time is spent looking into a screen and hunched over a desk. The 10–12lbs of your head are pulling forward on your spine. Think about a bowling ball resting at the top of your neck and how much strain is being applied due to this poor posture and gravity. Over time, the normal curve in your neck reduces, the length of the spine decreases and muscles in the neck become weaker. This can lead to a variety of symptoms from neck pain, to headaches and even impinged nerves radiating pain into the upper extremities. How physical therapy helps

Physical therapy works in a variety of ways to improve your posture and actually change your neck posture over time. With hands on therapy, stretching, special exercises and postural re–training, we will work with you to improve your posture, alignment and neck strength. In addition, we train you on proper postural positioning and techniques to adapt your work and home areas to reduce the strain on your neck. Call us today to discover how we can help quickly reduce your neck pain and improve your posture!

What is Arthritis and Stenosis?

Along with use and age, there is a natural amount of wear and tear that occurs over time that can lead to bony changes in the joints and bones (vertebrae) of the neck. These bony changes, along with poor posture, cause spurs of bone that can rub and irritate the surrounding tissue. When the spurs protrude in the holes on the side of the neck where the nerves exit (foramen), or the central spinal cord canal, this is called spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis can be central stenosis or foraminal stenosis. It can cause a variety of symptoms, from chronic pain, to numbness and tingling into the arms. In severe cases of central canal stenosis, which affects the spinal cord, poor balance, pain in the legs and difficulty with walking can occur. People with osteoarthritis in the neck can experience chronic pain, stiffness and limited range of motion with turning their head and looking up. Pain may be worse in the morning or after prolonged sitting. People with rheumatoid arthritis can suffer with neck pain. It is very important for people with rheumatoid arthritis to maintain strength in their shoulder, neck and postural muscles. This is because a very important ligament in the upper neck often weakens with rheumatoid arthritis and can be a serious health risk if injured.

How Physical Therapy Helps

Physical therapy is very important for neck arthritis and stenosis. At your initial evaluation we will assess your range of motion, joint mobility, strength and posture. From there, we determine the best plan of treatment, which may involve gentle hands on Manual Therapy to restore joint range of motion, soft tissue mobilization to improve muscle mobility, along with Therapeutic Exercise to improve strength, stability, range of motion, and improve posture. At WAV PT we will work with you and your physician to restore natural movement, eliminate pain and get you back to enjoying your normal activities. Call us today to discover how we can help relieve your neck pain quickly!

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

As a normal part of the aging process, the fluid filled discs between our neck bones (vertebrae) dry out and shrink. While some degeneration is considered normal, in some individuals, this can be excessive, leading to a severe loss of height in one or more sections of the neck. This loss of height can increase rubbing of bone on bone, produce bone spurring, increase pressure on joints and nerves exiting the neck. Symptoms can range from chronic aching neck pain, to radiating pain or numbness / tingling in the arms and hands, and headaches.

How Physical Therapy Helps

Physical therapy is a very important part in the maintenance of degenerative disc disease (DDD) and degenerative joint disease (DJD). While the disease process itself can't be changed, maintaining good posture, joint mobility, alignment, strength and range of motion, can reduce or eliminate symptoms and maintain a healthier spine.

Physical Therapy is an excellent treatment solution to help you feel better and return to normal activities. Call us today to discover how we can help you!

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) describes the problems that may occur at the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is where your jaw bone attaches to the skull. It is a complex joint that has to slide forward and drop down in order for your jaw to open. It moves thousands of times a day with talking, eating and any time you move your jaw. The joint has a disc or fluid filled sac within it and has many ligaments and muscles that coordinate movements.

The TMJ relies heavily on proper posture and alignment to function well. The posture and positioning of the neck and head play a large role in the pulls of muscles on the TMJ. Abnormal muscle pulls can lead to altered movement of the TMJ and thus pain in the surrounding tissues as well as in the joint itself.

How Physical Therapy Helps

Physical therapy helps TMJ suffers in a variety of ways. We will work with you to determine the exact mechanisms of your TMJ Dysfunction and where you have poor alignment of the TMJ, neck and head. By improving posture, movement and function, the normal muscle balance and movement of the TMJ can be restored. The combination of Manual Therapy and Therapeutic Exercise will get results and minimize recurrence. Call us today to discover how we can help relieve your pain quickly!


Vertigo and dizziness can be the result of a variety of different factors. Vertigo or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) often occur because of calcium crystals that form in the inner ear labyrinth canals get displaced and move from where they usually sit and it is this displacement that changes the feedback system of balance to your brain.


Dizziness can occur for a variety of reasons, including issues with medication and decreased mobility of the neck joints and muscles. When this occurs, the major arteries in the neck which supply the back portion of the brain that control balance and orientation can be affected.

How Physical Therapy Helps

When you visit WAV PT, we will perform a thorough examination of your balance and vestibular symptoms. We evaluate your visual movements, positioning of your head, neck mobility and balance. At times, we may need to provoke symptoms to determine the exact mechanism of your vertigo or dizziness.

If you are suffering with dizziness and vertigo, you can benefit from physical therapy intervention to improve symptoms and increase your neck mobility. There are specific vestibular and balance exercises that are performed to settle the calcium deposits in the inner ear and improve your balance systems. Call us today to discover how we can stop your vertigo or dizziness and make you feel like yourself again.

What is Herniated or Bulging Disc?

The disc is a jelly like, fluid filled sac that acts as a cushion between the bones of your neck (vertebrae). Your discs change as you age, drying out and becoming more brittle. In addition, as the discs dry out with age, the change in height between the vertebrae decreases, causing changes in posture and function. In younger adults, the center of the disc (nucleus) is held in place by many rings of the disc (picture a cross section of a tree trunk). With minor or major injuries, poor posture and strain, these rings can rupture allowing a pressing outward of the disc nucleus. Finally, as the nucleus reaches the outer edges, the disc can begin to bulge, which in turn can rub and irritate nerve roots exiting your spine.

In more severe cases, the disc can become herniated, which further presses into the spaces where nerves are exiting. Symptoms can range from localized pain, to numbness / tingling to a specific part of the shoulder, arm or hands. In more severe cases complete lack of sensation, muscle weakness and paralysis of an area of the upper extremity can occur. Changes in posture, strength and range of motion can all affect the positioning of the disc and how much bulging or herniation is occurring.

How Physical Therapy Helps

The good news is that the majority of bulging and herniated discs can be treated conservatively with physical therapy. By working with your medical history, symptoms and testing, we can determine what areas have been affected. A thorough plan of care is then created to relieve pressure on the disc by improving joint function, muscle strength and posture. Modalities, such as electrical stimulation may be used to reduce pain, muscle spasm or inflammation. Our plan will include Manual Therapy and Therapeutic Exercise to recover lost strength, increase range of motion, overall mobility, and stability. In addition, we then train you on the correct exercises to maintain good posture and reduce the risk of future episodes. Call us today to discover how we can help relieve your pain quickly and restore your function!

  • Neck Pain

  • Whiplash

  • Headaches and Migraines

  • Radiating Pain

  • Poor Posture and Forward Head Syndrome

  • Arthritis and Stenosis

  • ​Degenerative Disk Disease​

  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD or TMJ)

  • ​Vertigo and Dizziness​

  • ​Herniated or Bulging Discs

Are you ready to live pain free?  Schedule an appointment 
with WAV PT in South Orange County today!   

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