Neck pain is an extremely common complaint that nearly everyone will experience at least once in their lifetime.  For some, neck pain is something that they learn to live with day in and day out and it is eventually accepted as an inevitable part of life.  If you suffer from neck pain, you can start by asking yourself the following questions to see if any of these factors might be contributing to your condition:

Are you drinking enough water?

It’s no secret that staying well hydrated is beneficial for many reasons.  When it comes to neck pain, making sure your water intake is up to snuff can ensure that your discs – the “shock absorbers” that separate each of the vertebrae in your spine – stay nourished and hydrated as well.  The discs are predominantly made up of water, so making sure you’re drinking enough (a good rule of thumb is 8 glasses per day) keeps the discs healthy and strong.

Do you carry a bag or purse over one shoulder?

A common cause of neck pain that develops over time is carrying a briefcase, purse, or backpack on one side of the body.  A better option is one that allows a load to be carried symmetrically, like with a backpack worn properly over both shoulders.  If carrying a bag one-sided is a must, do your best to lighten the load by getting rid of extraneous items that tend to accumulate and try alternating sides every so often.

Are you a stomach sleeper?

Neck pain becomes a common complaint for those whose preferred sleeping position is on their stomach.  Stomach sleeping is extremely difficult on the neck since the head is maximally rotated to one side through the night.  Generally speaking, sleeping on your back is the best position to allow your neck to rest comfortably in a neutral position.  Side sleeping is also alright as long as your pillow is at the proper height, preventing your head and neck from bending or turning to either side.

Is your computer or laptop set up at eye level?

More often than not, monitors are positioned too low to be ergonomically correct.  This is especially problematic with laptop use since the keyboard and monitor are attached, which requires you to angle your head down to see the screen.  At a desk, a solution can be as simple as stacking up a few books underneath the monitor to bring it up to an appropriate level.  To correct this problem for laptop users might require the use of either a separate monitor or Bluetooth keyboard.

Do you cradle your telephone between your head and neck?

If your job requires spending a lot of time on the telephone, you definitely want to avoid pinching the phone between your head and neck in order to keep your hands free.  The use of a headset or ear piece prevents you from holding the phone incorrectly, keeps your hands free, and might save you from associated neck pain and problems.

Is your pillow the proper height?

Choosing the right pillow will depend a lot on your preferred sleeping position.  As we discussed above, stomach sleeping is not recommended due to the neck issues it can cause.  Back sleepers typically need a thinner pillow with a “bump” at the bottom to lend some support to the natural curve of the neck.  The pillow should not be so tall that it forces the neck to flex forward.  Side sleepers should keep their head, neck, and spine aligned with a pillow that gives the head the necessary amount of support.

Do you stare down at your mobile device?

The ubiquitous use of mobile technology has given rise to a host of new neck pain complaints.  Texting and looking down at your phone puts an excessive amount of stress and strain on the neck.  When you add this up over time, it can cause extensive wear and tear on the joints, discs, and ligaments in your neck that can lead to degeneration and pain.  Bringing your device up to eye-level can help to reduce some of the strain on your neck.

Is your posture correct?

The most common posture that contributes to neck pain is the classic slouched forward, rounded shoulders, head poked forward posture.  When you look at your posture from the side, the opening of your ear should be directly above the top of the shoulder.  When the head starts to slant forward, your neck needs to strain to keep your head upright, which can lead to chronic neck pain.

Do you sleep on an old, worn-out mattress?

Considering that you’re spending approximately one-third of each day asleep, having the necessary support at night from a good quality mattress is important.  The lifespan of a mattress can depend on a lot of factors.  Some newer mattresses are designed to last and be comfortable for a decade.  Of course, this also depends on how well they are cared for and how much they are used.  Classic mattresses should be flipped and rotated every 6 months or so to ensure they wear evenly.  Newer-style memory foam or other “one-sided” mattresses should simply be rotated.  If you notice that you’re not sleeping well or that you sleep better when you’re away from home, it might be time to look for a new bed.

Have you had your spinal alignment checked?

It should come as no surprise that the health of your neck and how well it functions relies in large part on how well it is aligned.  Normal alignment can help with maintaining good posture, sleeping better, and other neck pain related issues.  A specific misalignment in the top bones of the neck, the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) can frequently lead to neck pain and other issues throughout the body.  When these particular vertebrae misalign, since they directly bear the weight of the head, it causes the rest of the spine to shift or twist to compensate.  This can cause irritation to the muscles and nerves of the neck which will inevitably lead to pain.

Upper cervical chiropractic care seeks to alleviate neck pain and other related health issues by correcting the root cause of the problem.  If you’re concerned about forceful adjustments possibly irritating your neck even further, then upper cervical chiropractic care is the perfect solution.  Because of the precise nature of upper cervical adjustments, it is possible to accomplish the restoration of normal alignment in an extremely gentle manner.  What’s more is that upper cervical adjustments are designed to hold in place for as long as possible so that we can accomplish the greatest amount of healing and relief with as little intervention as possible.

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/neck-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20375581

http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/low-back-and-neck-pain/neck-pain

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