Neck Pain Prevention & Treatments
Neck pain is a common and most unfortunate phenomenon. The reasoning behind pain in this area of the spine can result from a number of factors, including injury, impact sports, disease, and even poor posture. Symptoms range from a dull ache to sharp pain, to radiating and shooting pain as well as a decrease in mobility of the neck, dizziness, tingling sensations, or headaches. While we definitely know when we have neck pain, it’s important to know how it can be treated. See below for several common ways in which you can alleviate neck pain depending on the cause of the pain.
Diagnosing Neck Pain
When medical professionals diagnose neck pain, they always review the history of the symptoms. The location, intensity, and duration of the pain are all carefully considered when the neck is both at rest and in motion. Further testing can also involve x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans.
When to See a Doctor
Most neck pain gradually improves over time if the damage is not severe or serious. Always consult a doctor if the following occur:
- If neck pain is severe
- If neck pain lasts several days without any relief
- If the pain spreads down your arms or legs
- If the pain is accompanied by a headache, numbness, or weakness
Treatment Options & Prevention
Treatment depends largely on the cause of the neck pain you’re experiencing. However, there are many ways to alleviate the pain and/or prevent it altogether. While these may help, it is always best to consult your doctor before beginning any treatment to determine the cause and best course of action.
- Posture- Your neck will become strained if your head is not in its natural position directly above your neck. Keep your neck aligned by keeping shoulders over hips and ears directly over your shoulders.
- Movement- If you are immobile for long stretches of the day, your muscles can become stiff and more likely to become strained. Stand up and walk around periodically to keep everything limber and functioning well. Stretching your upper body gently will also help.
- Adjust Your Tech- Make sure your computer is at eye level to avoid keeping your neck at odd angles for long periods of time. When seated, knees should be slightly lower than your hips and make sure to utilize your chair’s arm rests.
- Hold Your Phone- Don’t tuck your phone in the crook of your neck while you speak. That strains the neck and keeps it in an unnatural position that could cause issues if done frequently enough.
- Quit Smoking- Smokers are at a higher risk for neck pain as well as some diseases/cancers that can have neck pain as a symptom.
- Distribute Weight- Avoid carrying heavy bags off of one shoulder. Distribute the load evenly to keep strain out of your neck and upper body.
- Adjust Sleep Posture- It can be hard to adjust, but good posture when sleeping can make a world of difference. It is best to have a small pillow underneath the head so your head, neck, and body are aligned.