Neck Pain

Neck Pain: What can you do about it

Neck pain is a universal healthcare issue. Whether the pain is from too much time spent at the laptop or in front of the TV, or you are suffering from a condition that causes the pain; neck pain affects a large part of the world’s population. 

Most complaints of neck pain are for superficial injuries. People can get pain from watching TV for hours on end, to sitting in an uncomfortable position or sleeping ‘wrong’. 

Nielsen.com says that on average, the modern adult spends more than 10 hours a day staring at multiple screens. 

Many of us spend more than eight hours a day sitting at work, using a computer, laptop or other device to do our jobs. With all that sedentary time, sitting in one position and looking down, our necks are taking strain. While some people experience neck pain or stiffness as the result of an injury or medical condition, for most people, it’s really the result of daily life, says physical therapist Chrindye Dietz, PT. Many people refer to this as tech neck. 

This can cause the muscles around the neck joints to become overstretched and tired. When your neck feels stiff, or is painful to move, you are most likely suffering from your muscles weakening over time. This is the result of constant poor posture.

After a while, it can result in displaced neck joints.

The neck’s main purpose is to support the head. Your neck facilitates the movement of the upper body. It is made up of bones, ligaments, muscles and vertebrae that extend from the skull to the upper torso. Cervical discs absorb shock between the bones.

When you have any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury to the neck, mobility is hampered.

What do I do to ease neck pain?

Always consult your doctor before taking on an exercise or trying a new pain medication. The Medical Society has staff on call to assist you with all your health and lifestyle queries. Also, the Telehealth facility makes it easy for you to call in and speak to a practitioner. Operating in partnership with strategically located centres, The Medical Society is able to service thousands of people in need of primary medical care, every day.

Once you have signed up and paid your first premium, your policy is effective from the commencement date – there are no waiting periods.

Stretch

Stretching your muscles once a day is a great way to ensure that they stay supple. 

A popular stretch for tech neck appears below. It is one of the stretches endorsed by Yogi Approved.  

Start seated. You can sit on a chair, or on the ground, as long as you are comfortable. Try to align the crown of your head over your shoulders. Now, align your shoulders over your hips. The site says to ‘find length throughout your entire back body by sitting up nice and tall’.

Maintaining this posture, reach your right arm behind your back and take a hold of your left bicep (if this feels out of reach for you, you can wrap a yoga strap or a towel around your left bicep and then hold onto that with your right hand). Allow your left arm to rest in your lap and relax your shoulders down away from your ears.

Inhale. Let the breath reach the crown of your head toward the sky and exhale to gently release your left ear toward your left shoulder. Soften your shoulders and your jaw as you lengthen through the entire right side of your neck. You can experiment by turning your gaze (and chin) down or up to find the angle of the stretch that best serves you.

Hold for 5-10 deep breaths and then repeat on the opposite side, switching your arms and the tilt of your head.

Adjust

There are other ways to try to avoid a stiff neck. If you work on a computer, try putting your monitor at eye level. As much as possible, remind yourself to sit up straight.  Avoid tilting and twisting your head down or to the side while you’re on the computer. 

Health and Cleveland Clinic advises that when you’re driving or looking at your smart phone, be sure to take frequent breaks and avoid having your neck bent forward for long periods of time.

If you’re sitting for long periods of time at work, check out our article on what you can do to stay healthy.

Which medical conditions cause neck pain?

Meningitis, Osteoporosis and Fibromyalgia are but a few of the common culprits known to cause neck pain. 

People who suffer from these conditions need to be prescribed with chronic medication to handle the pain and underlying cause.

Meningitis is prevalent in children under the age of 12. Possibly the most life-threatening of the conditions that affect the neck muscles, it is the inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The neck pain is usually accompanied by fever, vomiting and headache. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, go to the emergency room.

When to see your doctor about neck pain

According to Healthline, if you have neck pain that also presents with pain that radiates down your arms or legs, you need to go to your doctor. Other worrisome symptoms include the inability to move your arms or hands, the inability to touch your chin to your chest, and bladder or bowel dysfunction. These are all indicative of a larger issue. 

If you’ve been in an accident or had fall and your neck hurts, seek medical care immediately.

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