What to do about Neck Pain

It’s rare to find someone who hasn’t experienced neck pain. In fact, 2 out of every 3 people will experience pain in their necks sometime in their lives.

Oftentimes, neck pain, while frustrating, isn’t a huge cause of concern. The neck is truly a marvelous part of your body: it bears the weight of your head, so it is easy for ligaments and muscles to become sore or overused. The result is pain, either directly in the neck, or that expands out towards shoulders, or down your back. Sometimes, pain from your neck can even cause you to feel the sensation of pins and needles in your shoulders or arm.

However, don’t panic. It is important to remember that experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms doesn’t necessary mean that you have structural damage to the vertebrae in your neck.

How to Relieve Your Neck Pain

There are many things you can do to combat neck pain. Oftentimes, posture-alignment exercises, like yoga or pilates, massage, chiropractic adjustments, or even over-the counter medications can help relieve pain and help relax the muscles in your neck.

Other lifestyle things to check would be to assess if you have the correct firmness in your pillow and mattress, as well as your sleep positions. If you are sleeping on your stomach or curled into a ball, switch to a “neck friendly” position, such as flat on your back with a supportive pillow.

Another thing to check is how much time you are spending at your computer, the height of your computer screen (it should be eye level), as well as other behaviors that keep your neck resting an incorrect position.

And keep your neck moving: one myth about neck pain is that if you are experiencing any pain in your neck, you should try and limit movement. It’s actually quite the opposite: if you experience neck pain, you should keep moving.  When you stop allowing natural movement in your neck, it can allow the neck to “freeze up” in one position, which is counterproductive for you.

Instead, try to limit repetitive motions, or movements where you lift, pull, or push incorrectly. Remember to consciously move your head from side to side, and up and down with gentle motions.  Avoid constant sitting, especially since we often sit incorrectly or spend our seated time looking down at tablets and smartphones.

When to call your Doctor about Neck Pain

Obviously, if you’ve been in car accident, or any type of accident where you might have developed whiplash or a more serious injury, you should call your doctor immediately.  Likewise, when pain in your neck is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a fever, rash, or weight loss, you should make an immediate call.

Lastly, anytime the pain is increasing, or starting to hinder your ability to do normal tasks in your life, you should make an appointment to check on the health of your vertebrae.

Dr. Donald Hope