Neck pain is one of the most common ailments that people face. In fact, according to one study about 7 in 10 people living in the US will experience neck pain at one time or another. Some even have to deal with chronic neck pain which can affect everything from sleep to normal daily activities. Why is neck pain such a common occurrence? What are the causes of neck pain? How can you find natural relief?
Neck Pain Causes and Why It Is So Common
There are many factors that can lead to neck pain. Some of these contributing factors include:
- Trauma – Car accidents, sports injuries, and other sprains and strains can affect the neck.
- Poor posture – Many Americans spend all day long hunched over a desk or mobile devices. This can lead to chronic neck problems.
- Fibromyalgia – This is chronic pain condition. Many of the tender points associated with fibromyalgia are on the neck itself or along the rest of the spine.
- Stress – The body stores stress in the neck and shoulders. This can lead to chronic neck pain and even headaches.
- Sleep Position – Sleeping in the wrong position or using the wrong pillow can lead to neck pain.
- Arthritis – When the spine stays locked in stressed position, it can lead to degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae. This, in turn, can result in pain.
- Pinched Nerves – When the spine is misaligned, it can put pressure on the nerves, and this can cause chronic pain issues.
A common factor among these issues is that all of them can lead to upper cervical misalignments. With that in mind, let’s look at 5 ways to fond relief without needing pain medication.
#1. Sleep the Right Way
If you are sleeping on your stomach with your head turned to the side, this is a likely cause of the pain. It is far better for your neck to sleep on either your side or your back where the neck can maintain a healthy position during the night.
Pillow choice is important depending on your sleep position. If you sleep on your back, use a softer pillow that will allow you to sink in a little. A memory foam pillow can also work if it is soft and thin. For side sleepers, you will need a little thicker and firmer pillow so that your head isn’t tilted toward the bed all night. Just be sure, regardless of your sleep position, that you don’t stack your pillows too high. This can lead to a forward head position if you sleep on your back or having the head tilted upward all night if you sleep on your side.
The neck needs to move or it will become stiff and sore. Exercise is important and stretching is a great way to get the neck moving without placing undue strain on the muscles and ligaments. Pilates and other forms of stretching have been the subject of a lot of research regarding chronic neck issues.
#3. Ice and/or Heat
Ice and heat both play a role when it comes to recovering from an injury. It is important, however, to understand the unique role that each plays. When an injury first occurs, swelling starts to set in. This can cause pain. Ice is a natural anti-inflammatory. During the first couple of days after an injury, you only want to use ice because this will help to reduce the swelling.
Once the swelling starts to go down, you want to promote healing by increasing blood flow. Heat can help to do this. Rather than going back and forth between the two, it makes more sense to use cold for 20 minutes at a time until the swelling goes down, and then heat while the injury is healing.
#4. Drink Plenty of Water
Water is pretty much vital to every element of human life and the health of the spine is no different. Whether you are dealing with arthritis, an injury, or just sore muscles, staying properly hydrated is always going to help you to recover faster.
While most people recognize that water is vital, few drink enough on a daily basis. Keep track of your water intake for a week to see if you are drinking a minimum of half a gallon per day along with a quart of other hydrating fluids (soda and energy drinks don’t count and actually work against proper hydration).
#5. Upper Cervical Chiropractic
Upper cervical chiropractic is very different from what you may think of when you hear the word chiropractic. First of all, the focus is just on the top two bones of the neck, which makes this the perfect subspecialty of chiropractic for someone with neck problems.
Second, it is a very precise and gentle method of care. When your neck hurts, you don’t need someone popping and cracking it. Those sudden motions can actually add to inflammation. Upper cervical care uses low force corrections that are long-lasting and give the body time to heal rather than adding another sudden trauma.
If you are suffering from neck pain, regardless of which one of the causes noted above may be the underlying issue, upper cervical chiropractic can help. When your atlas (C1) and axis (C2) are properly aligned, the entire central nervous system can function better. And that means more than just relief from neck pain. This is a natural and holistic approach to total body health and well-being.