About Neck Pain
Neck pain is a common complaint. Neck muscles can be strained from poor posture, whether it's leaning over your computer or hunching over your workbench. Osteoarthritis also is a common cause of neck pain.
Your neck is made up of vertebrae that extend from the skull to the upper torso. Cervical discs absorb shock between the bones. The bones, ligaments, and muscles of your neck support your head and allow for motion. Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness.
Many people experience neck pain or stiffness occasionally. In many cases, it’s due to poor posture or overuse. Sometimes, neck pain is caused by injury from a fall, contact sports, or whiplash. Most of the time, neck pain isn’t a serious condition and can be relieved within a few days. But in some cases, neck pain can indicate serious injury or illness and require a doctor’s care.
Rarely, neck pain can be a symptom of a more serious problem. Seek medical care if your neck pain is accompanied by numbness or loss of strength in your arms or hands or if you have shooting pain into your shoulder or down your arm.
Neck pain or stiffness can happen for a variety of reasons.
Muscle Tension & Strain
This is usually due to activities and behaviors such as:
- poor posture
- working at a desk for too long without changing position
- sleeping with your neck in a bad position
- jerking your neck during exercise
The neck is particularly vulnerable to injury, especially in falls, car accidents, and sports, where the muscles and ligaments of the neck are forced to move outside of their normal range.
If the neck bones are fractured, the spinal cord may also be damaged. Neck injury due to sudden jerking of the head is commonly called whiplash.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. In people who have meningitis, a fever and a headache often occur with a stiff neck. Meningitis can be fatal and is a medical emergency.
If you have the symptoms of meningitis, seek help immediately.
Other causes include the following:
- Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling of the joints, and bone spurs. When these occur in the neck area, neck pain can result.
- Osteoporosis weakens bones and can lead to small fractures. This condition often happens in hands or knees, but it can also occur in the neck.
- Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes muscle pain throughout the body, especially in the neck and shoulder region.
- As you age, the cervical discs can degenerate. This is known as spondylosis, or osteoarthritis of the neck. This can narrow the space between the vertebrae. It also adds stress to your joints.
- When a disk protrudes, as from a trauma or injury, it may add pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. This is called a herniated cervical disk, also known as a ruptured or slipped disk.
- Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal column narrows and causes pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve roots as it exits the vertebrae. This can be due to long-term inflammation caused by arthritis or other conditions.
Symptoms Of Neck Pain
Signs and symptoms include:
- Pain that's often worsened by holding your head in one place for long periods, such as when driving or working at a computer
- Muscle tightness and spasms
- Decreased ability to move your head
Causes Of Neck Pain
Your neck is flexible and supports the weight of your head, so it can be vulnerable to injuries and conditions that cause pain and restrict motion. Neck pain causes include:
- Muscle strains. Overuse, such as too many hours hunched over your computer or smartphone, often triggers muscle strains. Even minor things, such as reading in bed or gritting your teeth, can strain neck muscles.
- Worn joints. Just like the other joints in your body, your neck joints tend to wear down with age. Osteoarthritis causes the cushions (cartilage) between your bones (vertebrae) to deteriorate. Your body then forms bone spurs that affect joint motion and cause pain.
- Nerve compression. Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
- Injuries. Rear-end auto collisions often result in whiplash injury, which occurs when the head is jerked backward and then forward, straining the soft tissues of the neck.
- Diseases. Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer, can cause neck pain.
Prevention Of Neck Pain
Most neck pain is associated with poor posture combined with age-related wear and tear. To help prevent neck pain, keep your head centered over your spine. Some simple changes in your daily routine may help. Consider trying to:
- Use good posture. When standing and sitting, be sure your shoulders are in a straight line over your hips and your ears are directly over your shoulders.
- Take frequent breaks. If you travel long distances or work long hours at your computer, get up, move around and stretch your neck and shoulders.
- Adjust your desk, chair and computer so that the monitor is at eye level. Knees should be slightly lower than hips. Use your chair's armrests.
- Avoid tucking the phone between your ear and shoulder when you talk. Use a headset or speakerphone instead.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking can put you at higher risk of developing neck pain.
- Avoid carrying heavy bags with straps over your shoulder. The weight can strain your neck.
- Sleep in a good position. Your head and neck should be aligned with your body. Use a small pillow under your neck. Try sleeping on your back with your thighs elevated on pillows, which will flatten your spinal muscles.
Chiropractic Care For Neck Pain
Chiropractic care can help with neck pain - Performed mainly on the spine, a chiropractic adjustment applies a controlled, abrupt force to a joint. Chiropractic treatments to the neck can provide short-term pain relief, and, for many people, carry minimal risks.
Contact Limitless Chiropractic!
The chiropractic experts at Limitless Chiropractic specialize in many chiropractic services including: Chiropractic Adjustments, Pregnancy Chiropractic Care, Pediatric Chiropractor Care, Sports Chiropractor Care & Upper Cervical Care.