Neck pain is a very common injury in all populations. Neck pain can be caused by soft tissue injury or tightness or joint pathology. Muscle strain and resulting muscle spasm is often caused by an underlying neck problem, such as spinal stenosis, arthritis, or disc degeneration and can be triggered from trauma but frequently occurs for no obvious. But believe it or not there are ways to prevent this!
- Try a new pillow.
As a general rule, it is best to use a pillow that keeps the natural curve of your neck supported and maintained. Some people find that their neck pain decreases when they lie down on their back with the head supported by a relatively flat pillow, or with an orthopedic pillow that has a deeper depression where the head lies and extra support under the neck.
- Sleep on your back if you can.
In general, sleeping on your back is the best position to let your entire spine rest comfortably. Some people with neck problems find it helps to sleep on their back and place a pillow under each arm, with the idea that supporting each arm takes strain off the neck. If you prefer to sleep on your side, make sure your pillow is not too high—usually around 4 to 6 inches thick. This height should typically prevent your head and neck from turning or bending unnaturally to either side.
- Make sure your computer is at eye level.
Sit comfortably in front of your computer and close your eyes. When you open them, your gaze should be directly in the middle of your computer screen. If you find you have to look down, you need to prop up your monitor so that it is higher. There are now adjustable desks so you could stand and work as well as sit and put the desk at the height that is most comfortable for you.
- Avoid neck strain from texting.Texting or looking down at your cell phone or mobile device for any length of time puts excessive strain on your neck. Make sure to hold your phone at eye level when you are using it to help avoid this stress.
- Use a headset.
If you spend a lot of time on the phone, be sure to avoid tilting your head to the side or cradling your phone in the crook of your neck. Try using a bluetooth headset to reduce the strain on your neck.
- Exercise and stretch your neck.
Keep your neck muscles strong by doing short sets of strengthening and stretching exercises throughout the day. One of the simplest exercises to do is the chin tuck exercise; this exercise helps strengthen the muscles that pull the head into alignment over the shoulders. It also stretches the scalene and sub-occipital muscles.
- Carry weight evenly.
A common mistake people make is carrying a heavy purse or briefcase on one side of their body. This uneven load can cause your shoulders to become uneven, straining your neck muscles.First, try to lighten your load by taking only your essentials in your purse or briefcase, and make an effort to keep your shoulders level at all times when you carry it. Consider using a backpack that distributes weight evenly across both of your shoulders.
- Maintain supportive posture.
Poor posture can cause neck pain by straining muscles and ligaments that support the neck, resulting in injury over time.
- Relieve trigger-point pain.
Irritation to the facet joints of the lower cervical vertabrea in your neck can result in muscle trigger point pains. Trigger points are small knots in the muscle or fascia—which is a layer of tissue under your skin and around the muscle—that can lead to pain.
If these simple tips do not help the pain call us here at Physical Solutions for an evaluation and individualized physical therapy treatment plan to help address your neck pain.