Your neck is flexible. It supports the weight of your head all day long, and this makes it vulnerable to injuries and conditions that cause pain. Oftentimes the pain can restrict motion, making it harder for your neck to do its job. Neck pain is a very common complaint among people of all ages. A common reason neck muscles can become strained is because of poor posture. Some of us may lean over the computer or hunch over the workbench. This is a big contributor to poor posture.
Very rarely is neck pain a symptom of something more serious. Always seek medical care if your neck pain is in conjunction with numbness or loss of strength in your arms or hands. If you experience shooting pain into your shoulder or down your arm because of neck pain, you should seek medical attention as well.
There are a variety of reasons why you may experience neck pain. A few of them are:
Muscle strains result from overuse of the neck muscles. The strains are caused by damage to the muscle or the tendons that connect the muscles to the bones. Neck strains are caused by tearing the ligaments and tissues that connect the bones to each other. Both strains and sprains of the neck involve tears to ligaments covering the vertebrae of the spine. This may be caused by too many hours hunched over a computer or smartphone. Even minor things like reading in bed or even gritting your teeth can strain neck muscles.
Your neck joints, just like any other joints in your body, tend to wear down with age. Neck or cervical spine pain becomes more common as you age. This is often because of age-related degeneration of the neck bones. This wear and tear can cause osteoarthritis of the neck or cervical osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis may be accompanied by the growth of bone spurs and problems with the ligaments and disks in the neck. In the case of osteoarthritis, the cartilage between your bones starts to deteriorate.1
Inflammation or pressure on a nerve root exiting the spine may cause neck or low back pain. Herniated discs or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can press on the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. This could also cause pain to radiate from the neck down into the shoulder and arm. Signs and symptoms of this type of neck pain might be stiffness, tightness, aching, burning or stabbing, shooting pains. Muscles can feel sore or tense in the neck, face or shoulders.
Auto accidents can happen, and do every day. If you do get into one, it will take a toll on your body and the pain can last for years and restrict your range of motion. Rear-end auto accidents frequently result in whiplash injury. This occurs when the head is jerked backward and then forward. It strains the soft tissues of the neck as a result. Sports injuries or even a bad fall can strain or even tear muscles and ligaments. All of these injuries cause damage to your neck and result in pain.
Certain diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can increase neck pain and damage joints.2 While it typically affects the joints of the fingers and wrist, it can also affect other joints including fingers and wrists and impair mobility. Other diseases that can cause neck pain are meningitis or certain kinds of cancer.
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Even though there are a variety of factors that can contribute to neck pain, most neck pain is associated with poor posture combined with age-related wear and tear. To help prevent increasing neck pain, keep your head centered over your spine.
There are also some simple changes in your daily routine that may help ease neck pain. Consider these:
Improve your Posture
Many are feeling the effects of sitting at a desk job for many years. The crunched, hunched over position takes a toll on your posture and reduces your range of motion. There are ways to alleviate neck pain by improving your posture. While standing or sitting, be sure your shoulders are in a straight line over your hips and your ears are directly over your shoulders. The best way to improve your posture is to focus on exercises that will strengthen your core. Your core are the abdominal and lower back muscles. These muscles connect to your spine and pelvis. It may take some time to get used to the correct posture. Your muscles will want to go back to the way they have been for years. Persistence is key in order to maintain good posture successfully.
The average American works 9.2 hours a day.3 More often than not, few breaks are taken during this time. If you travel long distances or work long hours at a computer, it is important to get up and move around. Stretch out your neck and shoulders. Stretching can help to relieve stiffness in the neck and shoulder area. Even a simple stretch like reaching for the sky will drive oxygen to your brain, wake you up and release tension in your spine. This stretch will also help to relieve any stress on your neck. So rather than staying seated, get up and take a walk. If you work at a job where you are sitting down all day you may want to set a reminder to take a break or to get up and move around.
Adjust your Workspace
It is important to consider workplace ergonomics as part of the treatment and prevention of neck pain. Adjust your desk, chair, and computer so that the monitor is at eye level. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips. Be sure to use the armrests on your chair. If any of these positions are difficult to assume in your workstation, some adjustments need to be made. For example, if your eyes do not naturally look at the top of the computer screen when looking straight ahead, the monitor may need to be raised or lowered. If that is not possible, the desired height can be achieved by raising or lowering the chair. You could also set reminders to check posture. This might be important for those who have jobs where they have to sit down all day.
Avoid tucking the phone between your ear and shoulder when you talk on the phone. Instead, try using a headset or speakerphone. If you spend too much time speaking with the phone between your ear and shoulder, it can make your neck cramp up. The muscles used to maintain this position for an extended period of time will become constrained. This will negatively affect your posture and cause neck pain.
Being aware of your sleeping position and having proper pillows can help to minimize neck pain. Two sleeping positions are easiest on your neck: sleeping on your side or on your back. If you sleep on your back, it is important to choose a pillow that is rounded. This kind of pillow will support the natural curve of your neck. Sleeping on your stomach is very tough on your spine and can cause increased neck aches and pain. Try sleeping on your back with your thighs elevated on pillows. This will flatten your spinal muscles and alleviate any additional pressure caused by gravity. The ideal sleeping position includes having your head in alignment with your body.
If you apply the advice mentioned above, you can drastically reduce the pain you feel in your neck. We use our neck every single day in a variety of ways. It is very important to take care of it and maintain its flexibility and overall health. Our neck helps to protect our central nervous system which carries vital information from our body to our brain and vice versa. If the function of the neck is impaired or there is inflammation or pressure in and around the neck, it may inhibit the flow of this important information. As a result, you may experience additional pain in your limbs and head.
Relieving pain is an important part of dealing with neck issues while working to limit continued damage. Essential oils have been helping people with pain for years now, and MONQ’s Relieve Blend is a great tool to take your mind off of any and all pains!
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