Neck Pain: Causes, how to treat it at home and when to see a chiropractor
What causes neck pain?
Most neck problems are caused by improper posture — either at home, in the car or at the office. An average head weighs 10 pounds when it’s positioned properly above your body, but for every inch the head moves forward, it gains 10 pounds in weight. This puts a large amount of pressure on the neck and upper back and can result in stiff neck, neck pain and headaches.
More specifically, be aware of these positions and activities that can cause neck pain:
This may be hard to hear, but our beloved technology is putting a lot of stress on our necks and backs. Most of us don’t hold our phones up so that we can see the screen without putting pressure on our neck. Instead, we look down at them, forcing our neck into a compromised position for long periods. Same goes with hunching over our computers in the office and at home. Over time, this causes a stiff neck and even neck pain as the weight of your head puts pressure on your neck. Remember, your head is heavy.
Try to limit phone use to a few minutes a day. Make sure your computer is up high at eye level, you can even purchase a stand for your computer. This will help avoid the stress on your neck and back.
Flip flops are comfortable, stylish, and let the toes be free! But, have you ever thought about what’s required of your toes when you wear flip flops? With every step, your toes push down on the top of the flip flop in order to keep it on your foot. This changes the way you walk and also has a negative impact on your hips and back.
People with an uneven gait often have hips that are out of alignment, meaning one hip is higher than the other. Uneven hips can cause misalignments all the way up your spine to your neck as your body tries to compensate. So, next time you’re looking to stay cool yet stylish, rethink the flip flops.
Yes, this sleeping position is incredibly comfortable. However, the problem is that sleeping on your stomach cause your head to turn to the side. THis forces your neck into an over-extended position for most of the night. It’s almost a guarantee that you’ll have neck pain in the morning.
The good news is you can train your body to be comfortable in a new sleep position. Start slowly, if you wake up on your stomach, simply change to your side or back. Eventually, you will become comfortable with a new, less pain-inflicting sleep position.
For all those with young children, listen up. While shoulder rides are fun for you and your young child, they can strain your neck and upper back muscles. If you make a habit of it, extra weight can cause constant strain and send you seeking pain relief.
Yes guys, ties can be a problem. Your neck pain you experience at work may be more than built up stress or hunching over your computer, it may be your necktie. Neckties that are tied too tight increase tension in your neck. To make sure your tie is loose enough, check to see if you can fit the width of your finger between your shirt and neck. If not, loosen the tie. Plus, it’s more comfortable that way.
How to manage your neck pain at home.
If you find yourself sleeping on your stomach, hunching over your phone, or suffering from neck pain for a number of other common reasons, the first step is to try to treat your pain at home. Often all it takes is a few tweaks or exercises to relieve that pain. Plus, it saves money and time.
Cold can reduce swelling to an inflamed area. Hold a cold pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel on your neck. A good rule of thumb is 40 minutes on, 20 minutes off and repeat.
Check Your Pillow
Make sure you use a firm or extra firm pillow and sleep on your side or back. If your pillow is too flat, it forces your neck to bend in an unnatural position. After a long night’s sleep, the muscles in your neck may be so stretched that you’re guaranteed to experience neck pain.
Try Neck Exercises
Light neck stretches can help to loosen stiff muscles. You may want to gently tense your neck muscles as you look up and down, then from side to side. Be careful not to over-extend your neck beyond its normal limits, though, or you may do more harm than good.
When should you see a chiropractor for neck pain?
Treating your neck pain at home often works, but it is important to seek professional care if your neck pain is severe or unbearable. But, how can you tell when you can do it yourself or when you need medical assistance? Here are a few reasons you should see your chiropractor.
- If your neck pain does not improve after a few days.
- You cannot look to the right or left without severe neck pain.
- You feel like you must use over-the-counter medications just to make it through the day and are using it regularly to treat your neck pain.
- You’re worried that your neck pain may be caused by something serious.
- Your neck pain started in the neck but has moved to numbness or tingling in your hands or wrists.
- Your neck pain started within a few days of a car accident, or another accident.
- Your neck pain is worse when you first wake up in the morning, but feels a bit better as the day progresses.
Severe neck pain is not something to fool around with. If you think you are suffering from neck pain and need care from a medical professional, or if you’re interested in learning more about chiropractic care, contact Dr. Peacock today to set up an appointment.