What A Pain In The Neck !
Neck pain is a common issue and apart from low back pain is the second most common reason for people to visit our practice. It is estimated that about 50% of the population are affected by neck pain at some point in their lifetime and up to 34% of people suffer chronic ongoing pain.
Not only is neck pain literally "a pain in the neck", it can also lead to headaches, pain referred into shoulders and arms and cause numbness and tingling.
There are many causes of neck pain and also an abundance of information on ways alleviate pain so here we have highlighted some important points for you to consider and natural health tips and tricks that may help you feeling better.
Repetitive poor posture (e.g. text neck and slouching) may lead to neck pain and headaches. Aberrant changes in the way you hold your body can create extra pathological stress on the spine, its joints, discs, nerves, muscles and ligaments. Over time it can lead to muscle imbalances and weakness, reduced spinal function, tension on the spinal nerves and inflammation.
Ergonomic workstations and regular stretch breaks are important. Make sure computer screens are at eye level, use a low back support when sitting and try to minimise phone usage. Lifting your phone up instead of looking down will help. A 2014 study found that neck flexion of 15 degrees created 12kg of force into the cervical spine; 30 degrees was 18kg; 45 degrees was 22kg and 60 degrees was 27kg. This type of loading especially chronically, can lead to early wear and tear (degeneration) leading to arthritic changes and symptoms.
The average person spends about 26 years sleeping so it’s not surprising that poor positioning and pillows can be a big factor in causing neck pain.
Sleeping on your back or your side is recommended. If you sleep on your back go for a lower profile pillow that keeps your cervical spine in neutral. If you prefer side sleeping aim for a pillow height that allows your ears to stack vertically over each other. Use a pillow between your knees to keep your spine in neutral position. Ensure you also have a supportive and comfortable mattress. Avoid tummy sleeping as this causes rotation, misalignment and tension through your neck and low back, which can lead to stiffness and pain.
It has been shown that core stability exercises help manage chronic neck pain. The core muscles including abdomen, back and buttocks when strong help to stop your shoulders and neck muscles from being overloaded. It helps to maintain proper posture and alignment.
Physical, emotional and psychological stress creates tension in the muscles around your neck, shoulders and jaw. This leads to stiffness and pain and can refer up to the head causing headaches. Finding techniques to help destress is critical. This can include exercise, meditation, breathing exercises or engage in a relaxing hobby that you enjoy.
For more information regarding pillows, postural advice, neck exercises and stretches, please do not hesitate to ask one of our chiropractors during at your next consultation.
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