“Fairytales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist; but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – G.K. Chesterton
Life can be marked with periods of pain – often minor but sometimes severe. Experiencing pain is, for most of us, simply a part of existence. However, chronic neck pain is not a normal condition, and it can be debilitating over time.
Everyone, active or not, can suffer from temporary neck pain. Many of us have experienced the pain and discomfort of having “slept wrong” with our neck in an awkward position. Others know the pain of stress and anxiety causing muscle stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
But neck pain can arise for a variety of reasons and chronic neck pain can be a serious problem.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
According to most sources, neck pain is common. It can be the result of poor posture while working at a computer or hunched over a workbench. Repeated and long periods of this type of posture can strain neck muscles.
As the Cleveland Clinic website points out,
“Neck pain, or cervicalgia, can last from days to years, depending on the cause. Common causes include physical strain, poor posture, mental stress, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, herniated disk, pinched nerve, tumors and other health conditions.”
In addition, the Mayo Clinic notes that other common causes of neck pain include the following:
- Worn joints. As with other joints in the body, neck joints tend to wear with age. In response to this wear and tear, the body often forms bone spurs that can affect joint motion and cause pain.
- Nerve compression. Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of the neck can press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
- Injuries. Rear-end auto collisions often result in whiplash injury. This occurs when the head jerks backward and then forward, straining the soft tissues of the neck.
- Diseases. Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, or cancer, can cause neck pain. Osteoarthritis also is a common cause of neck pain.
On rare occasions, chronic neck pain can be a symptom of a more serious problem. This is often felt as neck pain combined with numbness or loss of strength in the arms or hands or pain that shoots into a shoulder or down an arm.
In those situations, medical attention is highly recommended as there can be significant nerve damage occurring.
When It Comes to Neck Pain, Prevention is the Best Medicine
Neck pain relief is best approached from a strategy of prevention. Since most neck pain is the result of poor posture as well as age-related wear and tear, taking to steps to prevent neck pain by keeping your head centered over your spine is essential.
This can require some conscious and intentional changes in your daily routine. For example, when standing and sitting, keep your shoulders in a straight line over your hips and your ears directly over your shoulders. Also, when using your cell phone, tablet, or other small screens, keep your head up and hold your devices straight out rather than bending your neck to look down at them.
Other common activities and actions to prevent neck pain include:
- Taking frequent breaks. When traveling long distances or working long hours at your computer, periodically get up, move around, and stretch your neck and shoulders.
- Adjusting your desk, chair, and computer. Keep your monitor is at eye level, your knees slightly lower than hips, and use your chair’s armrests.
- Avoiding carrying heavy bags with straps over your shoulder as the weight can strain your neck.
- Sleeping in a healthy position. In bed, your head and neck should be aligned with your body. Try using a small pillow under your neck and sleeping on your back with your thighs elevated on pillows, which will flatten your spinal muscles.
- Staying active. If you are sedentary and don’t move about much, increase your activity level. This can be beneficial in a number of ways as well as for your neck health.
Relief for Chronic Neck Pain
Avoiding and taking steps to prevent common sources of neck pain is one thing, but when you are in the grip of lingering or chronic neck pain, finding relief can be challenging.
One source recommends the following steps for self-treatment of neck pain,
- Alternating an ice pack with heat several times daily for 30 minutes
- Gentle stretching, and massage may help relieve neck pain.
- Taking an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen may also help.
- Gentle exercise and good posture may also help prevent it.
In addition to these commonly recommended efforts, stress-reducing techniques can often help, as well.
As one spine health clinic suggests,
Neck pain can be produced by tension in your neck muscles as a result of high stress. By reducing your stress, you can help treat and prevent neck pain. If you find yourself getting tense during the day, try the following stress-reducing techniques:
- Listen to music.
- Meditate or take a moment to quiet your thoughts.
- Take a short break from high-stress situations at work or at home.
- Do an activity or hobby that brings you joy.
Ultimately, however, some neck pain issues will require treatment that is beyond what you can do for yourself.
Come to Pain and Performance Solutions for Neck Pain Relief
For neck pain, whether it’s acute pain or a chronic pain issue, the first step to finding relief is to make the call to Pain and Performance Solutions. Once we learn about you and your pain issues during your first appointment, we can help you on your path to recovery. During that session we’ll ask a series of questions to learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of pain.
Afterwards we’ll conduct a full examination to determine which form of treatment is needed to help you on your road to neck pain relief. And one of the most effective treatments for a wide variety of soft tissue and neck pain issues is Active Release Techniques®, or ART®.
But to begin successfully using ART® for achieving neck pain relief, we must have a full understanding of how and where your pain started. Oftentimes, when the cause isn’t readily known such in the case of chronic neck pain, for example, it could be that it started long before as the result of another injury you might have sustained.
Your trust in us is key, as is your openness and honesty. Ultimately, getting your body working properly and healthy is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any, and all questions that you may have.