Neck pain is quite common and rarely means something serious. Most people deal with simple neck pain, and you can have it when you strain your neck muscle from poor posture. Those who hunch over their smartphones or slouch in a chair are often the ones who suffer from neckache. Osteoarthritis can also bring it on.
However, neck pain can also be a cause for concern. If your neck pain comes with shooting pain in the shoulder and down the arm or numbness in the hands or arms, you should see the doctor immediately.
Neck Pain Symptoms
Anyone with neck pain may experience one or more of these signs and symptoms:
- Inability or difficulty moving the head
- Worse pain when holding the head in one place for a long time. For example, when driving or working at a computer
- Tight neck muscles and muscle spasms
- Abnormal headaches
What Causes Neck Pain?
The neck does a crucial job of carrying the weight of the head. While motility is its major advantage, it is also its drawback. Since the neck moves in different directions, it is prone to problems and injuries that lead to pain and restriction in its movements. Neck pain can be a result of many things, such as any of the following conditions:
Strain happens when you overuse your neck muscles, often due to repetitive movements, hunching forward while typing on your computer, or looking down at your gadgets for long hours. Another cause of muscle strain is teeth grinding or reading in bed with many pillows propped behind you.
Herniated discs or bone spurs in the neck can pinch on the nerves connected to your spinal cord, leading to neck pain.
Wear and tear of joints
Like the rest of the body’s joints, the neck joints also wear out as you age. The discs act as cushions in between vertebrae. They deteriorate over time and may even result in osteoarthritis.
Disorders such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and meningitis can be causes of neck pain.
When your head was forced to move back and forth too fast, such as during a rear-end collision accident, it can result in whiplash injury. This unfortunate event can strain the soft tissues of your neck.
When to See a Doctor for Neck Pain
As mentioned earlier, neck pain is rarely severe. Often it will subside in a few days after rest. However, some symptoms of neck pain may call for medical attention, such as if—
- Pain is severe
- You had a bad fall, car accident, or diving accident
- Pain doesn’t go away even after a few days, and it’s not getting better
- It extends down your arms or legs
- Numbness, weakness, tingling, or a headache accompanies the neck pain
Alleviating Neck Pain: 9 Home Remedies You Can Do
These simple at-home care alternatives can help soothe your stiff or sore neck:
Change your sleeping position
Your neck and head should be aligned with your body. Do not sleep on your stomach as it forces your head to turn to one side the whole night. A good position is sleeping on your back with a pillow between your thighs to flatten your spine’s muscles.
Use a headset to attend to calls
When speaking to someone over the phone, use a headset or the speaker feature on your phone. Tucking the phone between your shoulders and ears is a bad idea. Practice this to avoid muscle tension in the neck.
Ice helps reduce pain and swelling from fresh injuries. Apply an ice pack to the neck for 15 minutes. If you don’t have one, you can crush some ice in a plastic bag and wrap it in a towel.
Heat encourages blood circulation and soothes stiff muscles. However, heat is ideal only for old injuries and pains. Also, do not overdo it as it can aggravate the aching. Stand in a hot shower or use a hot pack to apply in the painful area of your neck.
Observe proper posture
Bad posture causes muscle tension or soreness. If you are always seated at work, be sure that the chair can properly support your body, especially your low back, so that you won’t slouch. Sit with a straight back and shoulders. Don’t lean forward over your desk.
Do not wear your bag on one shoulder
If you carry your bag on one shoulder, there is a tendency that you lean to one side to counterbalance the extra weight. You may strain your shoulders and neck.
Take the load off
Perhaps the simplest remedy, resting your neck muscles by just lying down and letting them relax, can help eliminate neck pain. However, do not use a thick pillow.
According to the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP), smoking can worsen degenerative disc disease in the spine. Therefore, it increases your risk of developing neck pain.
Relieving Neck Pain by Taking Care of the Spine
If you’ve tried all the above remedies but still find your neck pain thriving, it may be time to seek an upper cervical chiropractor. Your neck pain may be more than a muscle strain and caused by a misalignment in the topmost bones of your neck.
The C1 and C2 bones can easily misalign, given their mobility and location. It only takes a ¼ millimeter misalignment to spark problems all through the body, including neck pain. Upper cervical chiropractors find these small misalignments and work at fixing them. We do it through a gentle technique that naturally moves the bones back into proper alignment. By correcting the misalignment and giving the bones time to recover independently, you can break free from neck pain for good.