Neck pain is among the most common complaints witnessed by therapists treating musculoskeletal issues. As more and more of us spend our lives in front of computer screens, hunched over and moving less frequently, our necks pay the price for our sedentary lifestyles.
Most neck pain is caused by a few common issues. These habits can usually be changed to relieve neck pain, however, there are some instances where neck pain should be reported to a medical profession.
To find out more about common causes of neck pain, take a look below.
1. Muscle strains
Muscle strains are a common cause of neck discomfort, and they are usually caused by overuse of muscles in the neck as well as sitting in the same position, like at your desk, for long periods of time. Some muscle strains come from very little exertion like reading in one position and even gritting your teeth.
2. Worn joints
Usually a symptom of age, joints get worn down overtime. Some medical conditions like osteoarthritis of the neck can make this worse too.
3. Nerve compression
Nerve compression can be caused by a herniated disc or bone spurs, as well as lots of other issues. These conditions put pressure on the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord, causing serious pain in the neck.
The most common injury to cause neck pain is whiplash, which is usually the result of vehicle accidents, but there are other injuries that can result in neck pain too. While the pain from whiplash or a similar trauma can be relieved with painkillers, it is nevertheless important to seek the help of a medical professional to treat the actual injury and aim to reverse the damage caused through therapy and ongoing exercises..
Certain diseases can cause neck pain and if you think this may be the cause of your neck pain, you should seek medical attention immediately. Diseases that can cause neck pain include rheumatoid arthritis, some cancers, and meningitis. If you suspect meningitis is the cause of your neck pain, seek immediate medical assistance.
What can you do about neck pain?
When it comes to remedies for neck pain, there are quite a few you can try out. Some remedies seek to treat pain and others are preventative. For pain treatment you could try:
• Over-the-counter pain medications, like paracetamol and ibuprofen – but remember that these deal with the discomfort, not the root cause of the problem
• Alternating hot and ice packs to reduce pain and inflammation
• Stretching or massaging your neck
Preventative measures for further neck pain include:
• Good posture – Sitting or standing with shoulders straight over the hips can help to prevent neck pain from bad posture.
• Frequent breaks – Whether driving a long distance or sitting at your desk, taking frequent breaks is a good way to keep the neck moving and prevent stiffness from sitting for too long.
• Adjusting your sitting position – If you work at a desk, it is a good idea to move the space around to prevent neck pain. Make sure your monitor is at eye level and that your knees are lower than your hips when sitting.
• Adjust sleeping position – Many people sleep in the wrong position for their neck. Try sleeping on your back with your thighs elevated to relieve pressure on your neck.