The neck, which supports the head’s full weight, is very susceptible to strains, aches, and pains. Neck ailments range from minor stiffness to major damage of the spinal column’s vertebrae. Of the many causes of neck pain, here are seven of the most common.
Poor sleeping position
A poor sleeping position, often caused by a pillow that is either too thick or too fat, is one of the most common causes of neck pain. Your pillow should provide good neck support without necessitating excessive bending. Ideally, in any sleeping position the spine should aligned straight and the neck should not be bent up or down.
Injuries sustained in car accidents, falls, and athletic activities are leading causes of neck pain. Whiplash, helmet-to-helmet collisions, and other violent disruptions of the neck’s natural position can result in serious injury.
Posture greatly affects the condition of a person’s neck muscles. Whether driving, walking, running, or working, good posture is important to maintaining a strong, healthy neck. Hunching up the shoulders while sitting or walking is considered bad posture, as is sitting too long with your head tilted forward or to the side for too long.
There’s a common misconception that only obese people are susceptible to neck pain. In reality, anyone who’s overweight can experience neck problems. When the body is forced to support a large amount of excess fat around the waistline/abdomen, the bulk of the work falls to the back and the neck. Pain in these areas is especially bad when the person has a large, extended stomach.
Stress contributes to a number of health maladies, so it’s not surprising that the neck is an area affected by it. One of the most common side-effects of stress is hunching the shoulders, which contributes to muscle tension in the neck as well as the back and head. Rolling the head and shoulders can help alleviate stress-related pain, as can a massage. It’s also important to take regular breaks when working so the muscles stay loose and limber.
Holding the head at an unnatural angle for extended periods can cause neck pain. The most common of these positions is the classic “cradling the phone between the head and shoulders”, but other actions such as working under a car or counter, or holding a heavy weight at an unusual angle, can harm the neck. Smartphones are also a growing cause of neck pain: texting for too long, playing video games, etc. with the head bent down can strain the neck muscles.
The vertebrae in the spine are separated by soft discs that absorb the everyday stress the spine is subject to via running, walking, lifting, and the like. As we age, these discs lose some of their cushioning and flexibility. This can result in the vertebrae bunching too close together, squeezing the surrounding nerves and causing neck pain. Sometimes the discs become misaligned with the vertebrae, causing a bulge that also pressures the nerves. The worst-case scenario is a slipped disc, which results when the disc’s soft inner part breaks through its rugged outer “shell”.
If you’re seeking neck pain relief near Charlotte, contact Active Life Chiropractic for a consultation.