What to Do About That Pain in the Neck
Chronic neck pain is no stranger to many of us. The causes are many, but increasingly they include things like constantly looking down at our smartphones to sitting at a computer desk all day. Sadly, we are trending toward what posture experts call a “look down culture” — spending a good portion of the day in a bent neck, suboptimal posture. All of this can lead to some serious neck pain.
If neck pain is something you deal with regularly, read on, because we’ll break down some of the biggest causes of neck, shoulder, and upper back problems. We’ll also then share some preventative measures, and steps you can take to help ease that pain and tension, so you can look up at the world again in comfort!
What’s Causing Us All to Have Neck & Back Pain?
We already mentioned that looking down at our phones and computers all day has become a large contributor to neck, shoulder, and back pain. If you think about the position that puts your head in, it’s easy to understand how kinks and tightness in neck muscles can develop quickly, especially if you aren’t stretching regularly.
Some of the other common causes of neck, shoulder, and back problems include:
- Muscle Strains: Muscle strains are often to blame for neck pain. They can be caused by a wide variety of things including: pulling a muscle while exercising, grinding your teeth, or bad posture while sitting and standing.
- Nerve Compression: This can cause some pretty serious neck and back pain. If your neck pain is severe, you need to see your doctor — issues like herniated disks can press on certain nerves, leading to neck pain.
- Arthritis & Other Health Conditions: Certain health conditions like arthritis, or even meningitis, can also lead to neck pain. A doctor can diagnose these.
Other Symptoms Linked to Neck, Shoulder & Back Pain
There are some other symptoms that often accompany a tense neck and back. These include frequent headaches, muscle tightness, spasms, and decreased mobility.
So, what can we do to better prevent developing neck pain in the first place? Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can start doing right now, and it all starts with improving your posture. Take notice of how you are standing and sitting. Do you slouch? Try to stand and sit up straight with your shoulders back and in a line over your hips.
Some other things you can do include:
- Getting up, stretching, and taking frequent breaks from your desk.
- Limiting the amount of time you spend looking at your phone.
- Adjust your desk, chair, and computer so that your computer is more at eye level to prevent neck strain (or invest in a standing desk).
- Don’t smoke. There are plenty of serious health repercussions that occur as a result of smoking, including the fact that smoking may increase neck pain.
- Sleep on your back with a pillow under your thighs to help support your spinal muscles, which can help prevent neck and back pain. You also don’t want to use too many pillows under your head, as this can also contribute to neck pain.
Effective Natural Remedies for Neck & Back Pain
While it’s helpful to be able to prevent the pain from starting in the first place, what can you do if you are already experiencing pain? Here are some tips to help ease neck and back pain.
- Restorative Yoga: Yoga is great for stretching the body and loosening up tight muscles. If you can, go to a local yoga studio and sign up for a restorative yoga class, or find restorative yoga youtube videos, if a class isn’t an option. This practice can provide amazing results when it comes to total body relaxation. If you can get those tight muscles to relax, you should experience less pain in your neck and back. Try to make it a regular routine to stay ahead of the pain and promote proper posture and body alignment.
- Try Chiropractic Care or Acupuncture: These treatments can be very beneficial for relieving pain, and many people find them both helpful for back and neck pain specifically. This can be hit or miss, depending on the root cause of the problem (and depending on the practitioner of course). Try it and see if it’s right for you.
- Essential Oils: Soothing essential oils like chamomile and lavender promote calm and help your body relax. Relaxing your body is one of the best ways to help those tight muscles loosen up!
- The Neck Hammock: While this gadget may look funny, it does wonders for neck pain. The Neck Hammock or a similar tool can help stretch your neck, and may be able to help decrease pain, as well as increase mobility in the neck and shoulders. Plus, it only takes 10 minutes per day, and you may be surprised at how relaxing it can be.*
When to See a Doctor For Your Pain
While there are many preventative steps and remedies to help ease neck and back pain, it’s very important see a doctor if your pain is severe, if it continues for longer than a couple of days, if you have any numbness, tingling, or weakness, and if you feel like the pain is starting to spread. You will also want to call your doctor if your neck and back pain occurs suddenly, or with an accompanying headache, just to rule out any more serious issues.
Taking Control of Your Neck Pain
If you are dealing with the standard tight neck and back caused by slouching at your desk, and looking down at your phone scrolling through emails and social media, then give some of these tips a try. It may be exactly what you need for less neck pain, and it may even help support better posture and alignment so that chronic pain becomes a thing of the past.