Pain in the neck


Do you suffer from neck pain?  Nine out of 10 people will suffer from neck pain throughout the course of their life.  The type and intensity of the pain varies from case to case.  Some people experience a throbbing pain, while others feel constant tightness, which can both lead to headaches.  What do you do about your neck pain?  Pop a pill and hope it goes away?  Well, although it might help decrease the pain, it is temporary and definitely not a real fix.

People who work in front of computers, at a desk, or even people who read a lot are more prone to having neck issues.  These types of professions in which your neck is in a fixed position for a prolonged time cause the muscles to overexert themselves from trying to balance your head in a fixed position.  This constant overexertion of the neck muscles often leads to headaches, neck tension, neck tightness, and eventually early degeneration.  Degeneration is the deterioration of the vertebras, discs, and ligaments of the spine that eventually cause you to decrease the range of motion in your spine.

Your head and neck is comparative to a bowling ball that weighs about 10 pounds sitting on a thin stick.  Imagine how strong that stick must be in order to sustain the weight of the bowling ball when the ball is leaning forward.  This would create a lot of tension in the middle of the stick, and, in time, probably would alter the stick, making it curve forward.  This constant tension can only be sustained for so long before the stick snaps. This same abstract idea can be compared to our head and neck as it is leaned forward over our spine.  In order to have your head supported as it leans forward, your neck muscles must constantly contract to help support your posture.  When you have your neck muscles constantly contracting daily, it creates constant tension and pressure, which leads to pain.

Your neck should have a normal lordotic curvature in your spine.  This helps your spine to act as a shock absorber.  However, if you have your head in this leaning forward posture, you began to lose the natural curvature of your spine.  The loss of the cervical curvature is what leads to the degeneration process of your spine.

How can we prevent this posture, tension, and pain from getting worse?

1.) Doctors of Chiropractic can help assess your posture to restore the natural curvature of your spine.  This in turn will help decrease the neck pain and tension.

2.) Be aware of your posture.  Begin to pay attention to how you sit while at work.  If you work in front of a computer, raise your computer screen so that it is eye level.  This will help prevent you from leaning your head forward or looking down at your computer screen.

3.) Sleeping positions can affect your neck pain as well.  Sleeping on your stomach will cause you to have to turn your head to the left or the right, which will cause your muscles and spine to be strained.  Using an orthopedic cervical pillow helps to restore the cervical curvature of your spine while you sleep.  These pillows are designed to help you sleep on your back with increased cushion behind your neck, which will increase your cervical curvature.

4.) Your chiropractor can recommend stretches and exercises that will help decrease the muscle tightness, increase the flexibility of your spine, and improve your neck curvature. 5.) Get regularly scheduled massages to help decrease the tightness of your neck muscles that go down to your shoulders.  Massage therapy can help reduce the tightness and tension of the muscles.  I would recommend getting massaged at least once per month.

These are generalized symptoms of neck pain and should not be used as your only diagnostic measure to determine your neck problems.  Ask your chiropractor about these issues to properly determine the root cause and diagnosis for your neck pain.  It is common to have pain but definitely not normal.  Be proactive about your health, not just reactive.