Nagging Neck Pain - What to do About it
Posted on 18th July, 2023
Some causes of neck pain are beyond our control: injuries sustained in car accidents, sports injuries, or injuries resulting over time from necessary repetitive motion. In addition, chronic conditions can also cause neck pain, including cervical spondylosis (which involves a minor fracture of the bones of the neck), a narrowing of the spinal canal known as spinal stenosis, and a rupturing of an intervertebral disc.
However, most neck pain that medical professionals diagnose results from preventable causes such as poor posture, stress, and anxiety, as well as remaining stationary in prolonged positions with the neck bent.
These types of injuries can cause imbalances in the neck muscles, which directly affect the deeper muscles that attach one vertebra to another, causing them to weaken and become overstretched.
What Can You Do?
Neck pain might be minor and easily ignored, or it can be excruciating to the point where it interferes with substantial daily activities, such as sleep. Below, we've listed some dos and don'ts to help prevent neck pain:
- DO conscientiously maintain good posture. Aim to keep your neck in its neutral position. Avoid activity that would cause the head to lean forward or be cocked to one side for prolonged periods.
- DO relax your shoulders and back. Unknowingly, many tense their shoulders and back muscles while working at a computer, which can aggravate neck pain.
- DO create an ergonomic workspace. Set up your workstation so your computer screen is at eye level and your feet are supported on the floor.
- DO keep stress levels low. Stress is known to increase one's perception of pain, and it tends to promote poor positioning and tension in muscles. Some have found it helpful to regularly practice yoga or tai chi, both known to include an element of focused awareness and meditation.
- DON'T roll your neck. It can increase the pain as there is a danger of grinding your bones together. Learn controlled movements that will gently stretch your neck. To ensure you are stretching correctly, please seek advice from your doctor.
- DON'T hold your head bent for more than 10 minutes, whether reading, watching TV, or at a computer. Change your position to keep your eyes looking straight ahead.
- DON'T hold your phone between your neck and shoulder when talking on it. Although this position may free both of your hands, it puts an unnecessary strain on the neck muscles.
- DO seek professional care if your neck pain lasts more than two weeks. After running tests, your doctor will likely refer you to work with a physical therapist, who will teach you how to do exercises to strengthen your neck.