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Neck Pain

Neck Pain

Neck pain is a common symptom among adults. This often is the result of poor posture. Leaning on your computer for long hours or hunching over a workbench can cause neck pain. People with osteoarthritis can also feel neck pain due to their condition.

Neck pain rarely signifies a serious problem, and home remedies and physiotherapy work in many cases to resolve your neck pain. However, if you are experiencing neck pain with numbness, loss of strength in the arms or hands, or pain that shoots down from your shoulder to your arm, you should see a medical professional for clinical intervention. 

Brief Anatomy of the Neck

The neck and back are made up of small bones called vertebrae. These bones are stacked one upon the other to make up the spinal column. 

The spinal column supports your head and protects the spinal cord. This structure links the network of nerves throughout the body. This network passes signals such as pain to the brain.

The neck has the top seven bones of the spinal column, and these are termed cervical vertebrae. The joints that link these joints are called facet joints. These joints are the reason that allows you to rotate your head in any direction.

Between these bones are discs or cartilage. Even a slight dislocation of these discs can cause a slipped disc, a painful spine condition.


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Constant neck discomfort can make your life difficult. Ongoing neck pain can affect your daily life routine, like comfortable sleep, productive workability, as well as spending excellent time with close ones.

Don’t stay in one position, check your eye prescriptions in a specific interval, and know your limits while moving your neck and shoulder. If you feel light neck pain, consult a physical therapist shortly to prevent further damage.

Regular poor postures place the head on the neck muscles with unequal weight distribution causing nagging neck pain. Constantly dropping your head forward to check your mobile device can result in neck pain.

Common Causes Behind Neck Pain

The neck is a vulnerable area that can suffer from various injuries and conditions, causing pain and limiting movement. Some common causes of neck pain include muscle strains, worn joints, nerve compression, injuries, and certain diseases.

Muscle strains can result from overuse or even minor activities like reading in bed, while worn joints can develop with age, leading to bone spurs that affect joint motion and cause discomfort.

Nerve compression can occur due to herniated disks or bone spurs in the neck’s vertebrae, while injuries like whiplash can result from rear-end car accidents, straining the soft tissues in the neck.

Finally, certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, or cancer may also cause neck pain. Taking care of your neck is essential to avoid these issues, especially if you spend much time hunched over a computer or phone.

How to Prevent Neck Pain

The leading cause of neck pain is often linked to poor posture and age-related wear and tear. To avoid neck pain, it’s important to maintain good posture by keeping your head centered over your spine.

Simple adjustments to your daily routine can help reduce the risk of neck pain. For example, when using electronic devices, hold them straight out in front of you rather than looking down, which can strain your neck.

Additionally, if you sit for long periods, take frequent breaks, move around, and stretch your neck and shoulders. Adjust your desk, chair, and computer to ensure the monitor is at eye level and your knees are slightly lower than your hips. If you smoke, quitting smoking can also reduce your risk of developing neck pain.

Avoid carrying heavy bags over your shoulder, as the weight can strain your neck. When sleeping, ensure your head and neck are aligned with your body.
Try sleeping on your back with thighs resting high on pillows to flatten your spinal muscles. Finally, staying active and increasing your activity level are crucial if you don’t move much to prevent neck pain.

Diagnosis of Neck Pain

When you visit your healthcare provider with neck pain, they will typically take your medical history and perform an examination to check for tenderness, numbness, and muscle weakness. During the exam, they will also test your range of motion by asking you to move your head in several directions.

If necessary, imaging tests may be recommended to help identify the underlying cause of your neck pain. X-rays can reveal areas where bone spurs or other changes may pinch nerves or the spinal cord.

CT scans, on the other hand, provide detailed cross-sectional views of the neck’s internal structures by combining X-ray images taken from different angles. MRI or magnetic resonance imaging uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field for imaging your bones and soft tissues with very accuracy, including the disks, spinal cord, and nerves coming from the spinal cord.

By using these imaging tests, your healthcare provider can accurately diagnose the cause of your neck pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Managing Symptoms

Self-help treatments are often quite effective in reducing the symptoms of neck pain. Some common easy to access treatments include:

Relaxation: Stress can make neck pain symptoms worse. So, try and relax from time to time. Relax your neck muscles and the entire body consciously to achieve a balance between relaxation and exercise.

Heat and ice packs: Heat and ice packs often help manage neck pain symptoms. They help reduce stiffness and pain and provide a full range of motion to your neck.

Massage: Gentle massage of the neck, particularly with aromatic or other specific oils, can be helpful in reducing neck pain symptoms. But you should always consult a medical practitioner before using such oil as they might not be suitable for you. You should be particularly careful if you suffer from diseases like epilepsy.

Posture: Physiotherapy often consists of posture correction. Following simple rules like planting your feet firmly on the ground, using hardback, upright chairs while sitting at work, and using a pillow of the right thickness will help manage your neck pain.

Treating Neck Pain

Neck pain can often be treated with simple self-help remedies and a bit of rest. However, seeking a healthcare professional’s advice is recommended for more complex or persistent neck issues. Stronger painkillers may be prescribed if necessary, although they are not suitable for everyone.

Physiotherapists, chiropractors, and osteopaths are all qualified to treat neck problems and often suggest home exercises in addition to treatment. It’s essential to ensure that registered practitioners carry out any physical treatments.

A manipulation is a form of manual therapy used to address stiffness in the body. Seeking advice from a healthcare professional before trying manipulation is a good idea, especially if you have conditions like osteoporosis, as some therapies may not be recommended.

Although uncomfortable at times, discussing your condition with your therapist and explaining your symptoms can help them make informed treatment decisions.


Kristin Hallberg

Kristin Hallberg is a Florida board and Swedish health authority certified Physical Therapist. She earned her Physical Therapy license from Uppsala University, Sweden, in 2013. After moving to Florida she also earned her Florida board license in 2016. Kristin has a particular interest in orthopedic and sports medicine. She has 10 years experience of treating a variety of injuries and post surgery recovery for low back, knees, shoulders, neck, hips, and feet.

Previously, Kristin was a track and field athlete and continued with coaching at Uppsala Track and Field High school when injuries stopped her fromcontinuing to pursuit her own journey. During this time she also sought out new experiences and pursuit taking skydiving license and open water diving certificate. She enjoys the outdoors and grew upskiing and hiking. Seeking new adventures has always been a part of her life and relates to the importancefor people to stay active with the lifestyle that makes them happy.

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