Your neck not only functions in an important role by connecting your head to your shoulders, but it also performs the critical task of supporting your head. When you consider that the head normally weighs between 11-12 pounds, then the magnitude of your neck’s ongoing challenge becomes more apparent.
This can also provide a better explanation as to why the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your neck are vulnerable, and can eventually become the source of your pain. Discomfort in your neck can emerge anywhere from the top of your shoulders to the bottom of your head. The symptoms can range anywhere from mild to severe and will sometimes limit your range of motion.
In many cases, you might experience this discomfort as the result of something that you can avoid when you go about your daily activities such as carrying a heavy item over your shoulder or making the same motion repeatedly. You can also encounter discomfort in your neck as the result of preventable actions that you might engage in without realizing it – such as incorrect posture, poor sleeping habits, or gritting your teeth.
You could also experience neck pain after participating in sports or recreational activity, as the result of a car accident, or from other health-related factors such as arthritis, or an infection. However, this article will remain largely focused on specific habits that you can develop which will increase your chances of escaping unwanted neck pain.
Tips To Avoid Neck Pain
How you sleep can certainly impact whether you will experience neck pain. While sleeping in a comfortable position is your actual goal, this usually means that you should lie on your back during the sleep process. If there is discomfort in your neck when you wake up, then it is recommended that you try a different pillow. This most likely means that a softer pillow will work better for you, but every individual has specific needs based upon the type of pain that you are experiencing and where it is located.
Maintaining correct posture will also help you evade potential neck issues. This is accomplished by making sure that you stand and sit with your shoulders remaining directly over your hips while also keeping your head straight. You should also make any necessary adjustments to your chairs and your electronic devices to avoid tilting your head down.
This segues into an important tip that was mentioned in a previous article. You should hold your cellular phone at eye level as often as possible instead of spending a large percentage of time each day looking down at your phone. 79% of the population between ages 18 and 44 have their cell phones with them virtually all of the time, and time passes quickly when you are communicating on your phone. This will place excessive strain on our neck.
It was also recommended previously that you should raise your computer to a point that is about two inches below the top of your screen image if you find yourself spending a considerable amount of time staring at your computer screen. This will reduce the pressure on the soft tissue where neck pain can often emerge.
You can also decrease the likelihood of having neck pain if you drink a sufficient amount of water each day. Staying hydrated will be beneficial to your discs that are located between the vertebrae in your neck.
When You Should Contact A Doctor
There are circumstances in which you should seek emergency medical assistance for your neck pain, beginning with any situation in which you have recently suffered a traumatic injury. This could be the result of an automobile accident, or any other accident that involved impact such as a fall. You should also call 911 or have someone drive you to an emergency room if you are contending with muscle weakness in your arms or legs, or if you are unable to walk. If your pain is severe and is accompanied by a high fever, then you should also seek emergency care.
If you are already dealing with neck discomfort, and your symptoms do not contain the seriousness of the situations that were just discussed, then it might be tempting to avoid consulting with a physician. However, that might force you to deal with discomfort for an extended period of time when you could have avoided a long-term issue by simply seeking assistance.
It is important to contact a physician if your neck pain does not improve or actually becomes worse after several weeks of discomfort. This is particularly true if you have been attempting to relieve your neck pain through the use of ice or heat, stretching or massages, yet it has not improved.
You should also seek attention if the pain becomes severe, or if it moves down your arms or legs. Any form of numbness, tingling, or weakness should also result in a conversation with a doctor.
What Your Doctor Will Do
Your physician will ask you all pertinent questions concerning the specifics of your neck pain – which includes where it hurts when the discomfort began and what movements might increase your pain. He or she will also check your mobility, which will help determine whether additional testing is necessary. This could result in X-rays, a CT Scan, or an MRI. Blood scans are possible, as is an EMG test if your doctor suspects that a pinched nerve is causing your pain.
Once your doctor has constructed a diagnosis, your treatment might consist of either short-term rest, medications, or physical therapy. In some rare cases, surgery is recommended if your pain is being caused by a more serious problem such as a nerve root or spinal cord compression.
At Orthopedic Associates We Can Help
If you are experiencing any of these issues, we encourage you to visit us at Orthopedic Associates. With eight board-certified physicians and two board-eligible physicians in orthopedic specialties, Orthopedic Associates offers a full spectrum of musculoskeletal care, along with in-house physical therapy. state-of-the-art-technology, and an on-site surgical center.
We also encourage you to consult one of our neck and spine doctors if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Hard, knotted muscles in your neck or shoulders
- Decreased range of motion.
- Tightness in the general neck-and-shoulder area
- Stiffness as you go to look over your left or right shoulders
- Headaches originating from the base of your skull and continuing to the front of your forehead.
Our specialists also provide on-call availability, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can treat these additional neck conditions:
- Anatomy of the Spine
- Cervical Radiculopathy
- Compression Fracture of the Spine
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Facet Joint Syndrome
- Herniated Disc(s) (Cervical)
- Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
- Metastatic Cancer of the Spine
- Muscle Strain of the Upper Back (Trapezius Strain)
- Post-Laminectomy Syndrome
- Spinal Epidural Abscess
- Spinal Infection
- Spinal Stenosis
- Where Lower Back Pain Begins
- Where Neck Pain Begins