The phrase "pain in the neck" is slang for somebody who won't stop annoying you, but the fact is that many of us have literal neck pain. Living with pain in your neck can affect everything you do, making it hard to enjoy activities you love or even do things like sleep.
What Causes Neck Pain?
Neck pain is generally caused by one or more of the following:
Poor posture while awake and/or while asleep.
Overstretching the neck while looking at a phone.
Sitting too much.
Degenerative disc disease in the cervical spine.
Spinal stenosis, which causes the nerve passageways to narrow.
Weak abdominal muscles.
Whiplash. Whiplash is most often caused by low speed automobile accidents, often ones which result in little damage and no other injuries. Whiplash can also be the result of a sports injury.
As you can see, neck pain can be the result of a number of things – some you can prevent and some you may not be able to avoid. Pain caused by degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis can also run down the arm and through the shoulder. Issues with your neck can also cause headaches.
What Can You Do To Bring Neck Pain Relief?
What you can do about it depends in part on the cause of the neck pain, but here are some tips:
Improve your ergonomics and posture. If you work at a desk or by a computer, make sure that your monitor is positioned at eye level. If you use a tablet, then use a pillow or small cushion to prop it up at an angle rather than having it flat on your lap. Avoid cradling a phone between your ear and shoulder; use the hands-free function or, better yet, invest in a headset. Limit the amount of time you spend using a smartphone or tablet.
Keep your glasses prescription up to date and get checked out by your eye doctor regularly. Craning or squinting to see better can sometimes cause you to have poor posture.
Get up and move around frequently. Taking your neck out of the position it’s been in for a while will help avoid muscle strain.
Avoid sleeping on a stack of pillows if possible. Propping yourself up with too many pillows can hold your neck in one position. Sleeping on your back is best for neck pain; sleeping on your stomach is worse.
Avoid lifting things which are too heavy. When you do lift things, bend at your knees and not your waist.
Do neck stretches. Neck stretches are the kind of thing you can do during a short break at work, and they will help your neck a lot, and can also help prevent issues with your shoulders and upper back.
Exercise and maintain a normal weight. If your BMI (Body Mass Index) is above normal, you may have extra weight that is causing your entire spine to have extra pressure. This includes your cervical spine, or neck area. Exercise regularly (150 minutes per week) doing activities such as walking, riding your bike, or other activities you find enjoyable that keep you moving. This is also good for reducing stress which causes your neck muscles to be tense.
If your neck pain doesn’t go away after about a week, or if it is associated with pain or numbness in the shoulder and arm, talk with your chiropractor about treatment for neck pain.
What Can Your Chiropractor Do for Neck Pain?
Your chiropractor has several neck pain treatment options, and will discuss with you which one(s) are best for your specific circumstances and symptoms. These include:
Massage therapy. Your neck can benefit from massage therapy just as much as further down your spine. A trained massage therapist can help ease pain and relax muscles.
Cold laser therapy (low intensity laser does not heat up your body) can relieve neck pain caused by problems with your muscles. It is a non-invasive treatment that results in no downtime.
Electrical muscle stimulation. Electrical muscle stimulation is used to reduce inflammation and decrease muscle spasms. This is a great treatment for whiplash as well as for sprains or strains of the neck.
Spinal decompression. If the pain in your neck is not caused by muscle strain, there is still a way to provide relief without long-term use of painkillers. Nonsurgical spinal decompression is recommended for degenerative disc disease and arthritis of the neck. It can also be used to treat spinal stenosis. The treatment consists of gentle motorized traction that reduces the pressure on the discs. Treatment is generally 15 to 30 minutes per treatment over several weeks.
If you have persistent neck pain, then you should talk to a chiropractor about treatment (and advice on how to prevent it in future). today to find out more and make an appointment for chiropractic treatment for your neck pain.