Your neck is a vital yet vulnerable part of your body due to its ability to move in many directions while holding the weight of your head (average wt 10 lbs). While neck pain (cervical spine) is not as commonly treated as low back pain (lumbar spine) millions of people will experience it at some point in their lives. While the majority of everyday neck pain and stiffness will alleviate over time without surgery it is important to understand neck pain and causes.
CAUSES OF NECK PAIN:
- Muscle strains: Most common source of neck pain or injuries related to posture or positioning of the head/neck. Poor posture with daily work activities including computer and phone use can often trigger strains. Sleep positions including reading in bed or poor pillow choice or grinding teeth can also contribute. Poor lifting mechanics or overuse in the gym can also result in a strain injury.
- Worn out joints/degeneration: All joints in your body are susceptible to wear and tear also know as osteoarthritis. When joint surfaces/cartilage wears away one is susceptible to pain, decreased mobility and often increased joint sounds.
- Injuries: Such as whiplash from an auto accident can contribute to neck pain.
- Nerve Compression/disc: Bulging or herniated discs refer to an injury of the soft tissue/cushion found between each vertebra this can happen in both the lumbar and cervical spines. Disc injuries generally occur over time as general age related wear and tear.
*If you have associated numbness/tingling or loss of strength in your arms/hands you should seek the help of a physician right away.
WHAT CAN I DO?
- Gentle massage to the strained or spasming muscles.
- Apply ice or heat to the areas. Take a nice warm shower or bath.
- Watch your posture!
- Gentle stretching
If you have any neck pain lasting longer than a few days or it has gotten worse despite your best efforts it is a good idea to have it evaluated by a physical therapist. With a combination of manual therapy and the right exercise program physical therapy is the best treatment option.