Neck pain is unfortunately common and well, painful. When it’s sharp and intense, it usually limits range of motion and causes avoidance of positions and certain activities. When it’s low grade pain and stiffness, it is usually ignored since it’s something most people can tune out of their mind. But when pain doesn’t resolve on it’s own and especially when it is limiting range of motion, causing avoidance of activities and movement or inhibiting sleep, it’s time to pay attention.
There are several reasons your neck could be hurting and this is not an exhaustive list, but includes the more common problems seen at a chiropractic office. If you or your healthcare provider don’t think your problem fits into one of these categories, or if there are additional more serious symptoms, then further evaluation is warranted.
- Use of computers or high amounts of screen time. Text Neck is an overuse syndrome resulting from the looking down and head-forward posture of using a screen on a phone or tablet.
- Sleeping with a pillow that stresses the neck in a tilted position. Whether the sleeping position is side-lying or laying on the back doesn’t matter. Stomach sleeping causes stress on the neck due to the need to keep the neck rotated to rest the head.
- Overuse of neck and shoulder muscles with exercise. This can be related to improper breathing technique or due to keeping the neck and shoulders tense while doing aerobic or weightlifting activities. It’s important to pay attention to how the muscles feel when exercising and breathe correctly from the diaphragm.
- Slouched posture. When the spine is slouched while sitting or standing, it’s impossible to keep the head correctly aligned over the torso. Imagine holding a bowling ball with your arms extended out in front of you and how much strain that places on the arms. This is similar to how the neck muscles feel strained, and the stress that is placed on the joints, tendons and ligaments of the spine when the torso is slouched.
- The driver’s seat in your car isn’t adjusted well for you. Just like an office chair should be set correctly for support while working at a desk, the driver’s seat in a car should be set to best support the driver. The seat portion should be parallel to the floor or slightly tilted with the front edge downward. The back rest of the seat should be close to straight upright so that you can sit with good posture and keep the head relaxed over the torso, not jutting forward.
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