Neck Pain – Causes, Symptoms and Home Remedies
Neck Pain Overview
“This job is a pain in the neck.” It may be more than just a saying. Tension on the job or at home, tasks that require a lot of leaning over, poor posture, and even a too-soft mattress can cause neck pain and stiffness.
Of course, some neck pain is the result of injury or disease, but the vast majority of neck pain is due to simple muscle tension.
The neck with its intricate structure and a wide range of mobility are particularly vulnerable to stress and strain.
The head, which weighs between 10 to 20 pounds, is supported by a stack of 7 small bones called vertebrae and held in place by 32 complex muscles.
Attached to and between the vertebrae are pads of fibrous cartilage called discs that act as cushions, or shock absorbers.
Eight nerves and four major arteries that carry sensations (including pain) and blood between the head, shoulders, chest, and arm run through the neck.
The delicate spinal cord through the center of the stack of vertebrae and is protected by them.
And to this complex structure the fact that the neck moves more than any other part of the body, and you’ve got a formula for trouble.
“When muscles become tense due to physical or emotional stresses,” “the blood supply to the muscle shuts down, and the muscle feels pain.”
It’s a vicious cycle. Your muscles tense, decreasing the blood supply and causing pain. Pain causes the muscles to tense further.
How to ease your pain
However, breaking the tension-pain-tension cycle is a two-step process. First, you have to relieve the emotional or physical pressure that’s causing the muscle tension. Then you have to relieve the muscle spasms.
These tips can help you break the tension-pain cycle and learn new habits that will keep the tension from developing in the first place.
Take the load off your neck
One of the simplest ways to relieve the pain is to lie down and give your muscle a chance to re to recover. Be sure not to use a thick pillow that cramps your neck
“Often, there’s no scientific basis for what works.” What works for one person may not work for you. Experiment. Try different things until you find the combination of treatments that ease your pain.
Ice your neck pain
Ice effectively numbs pain and decrease inflammation. Put crushed ice in a plastic bag and cover the bag with a pillowcase. (A terry towel is too thick to effectively transmit the cold). Apply to your neck for 15 minutes at a time.
Heat it up the pain
After you’ve used ice to bring down any inflammation, You may find heat comforting. Use a wet towel or a hot water bottle, or stand in a hot shower. But don’t keep it up for too long. Too much heat can aggravate symptoms and cause more neck pain.
Relaxing is good for your neck pain
“A lot of muscle tension comes from emotional stress.” Learn to read the symptoms when you’re holding your body tensely.
Find out what makes you tense up. Recognize when you’re in a stressful situation, and learn new ways to respond.”
Develop Stress-management skills through relaxation techniques, such as progressive relaxation or abdominal breathing. For progressive, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
Sit or lie down and close your eyes. Then, starting with your head and neck and working down the entire body, tense and then completely release the muscles.
For abdominal breathing, sit quietly and take a deep breath all the way into your stomach. Then exhale completely, gently sucking in your stomach.
Breathe deeply like this for several minutes. In addition to these techniques, you may want to develop some of your own methods of relaxation. Do whatever works for you.
Use massage to ease your neck pain
Massage can help ease neck pain and give temporary relief, and it may help you sleep better. First, take a hot bath or shower to relax the muscles.
Then, have a partner use oil or lotion and rub your neck and shoulders using small circles with gentle pressure.
Next, have him or her rub your neck and shoulders using firm pressure and long downward strokes. don’t forget the chest area.
If you don’t have a willing partner, try rubbing your own neck and chest area with oil or lotion for 10 or 15 minutes.
Practice good posture
Posture has more to do with neck pain than people realize. The head and spine balance in relation to gravity.
When poor posture pulls the curve of the lower back forward, the upper back curves further backward to compensate.
In response, the neck curves forward, in a strained position. Improve your posture by using the “wall test.”
Stand with your back to a wall, heels must be several inches away from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulders should be close to the wall. And the back of your head should also be close to the wall.
Keep your chin level. Now, step away from the wall. Step back and check your position. Try to carry this posture throughout the day.
Too much excess weight tends to exaggerate swayback in people. “This, in turn, causes the neck to compensate and become strained.”
Strengthen stomach muscles
Just as poor posture and obesity can cause the neck to become overstrained. Poor muscle tone in the stomach muscles forces the upper back to curve farther backward and the neck to curve forward.
Do exercises like bent-knee sit-up to strengthen abdominal muscles.
Do neck exercises
Two types of neck exercises can help ease and prevent neck pain are: gentle range-of-motion exercises and isometric exercises.
Apply moist heat to the neck before performing the exercises. Do each exercise five times per session, and three sessions per day. Range-of-motion exercises help to stretch the neck muscles.
Sit erect and relaxed. Slowly turn your head to the right as far as you can, hold, and return it to the center.
Repeat to the left. Then drop your chin down slowly towards your chest, hold, and relax.
Bring your head back up. Now, must also tilt your head towards your left shoulder, hold, return to the center.
Do the same on the right side. And finally, tilt your head backward so you’re looking at the ceiling, hold, and then bring it back to the center.
Isometric exercise is performed against resistance without moving your head. Sit and relax, press your forehead into your palm, and resist any motion.
Then press your hand against the right side of your head. Also push your head, trying to bring your ear to your shoulder, but resist any motion.
Then press both hands against the back of your head. Try to pull your head up, but resist the motion.
And finally, press your hand against your temple, try to turn your chin to your shoulder, but resist the motion.
Stay in shape
The stronger and more flexible your neck is, the more it will be able to resist injury. Swimming is one of the best all-around exercises for strengthening the neck and back.
Working at eye level is crucial to your neck pain
If your neck pain discomfort comes out on toward the end of the day, then, chances are good that your work situation or your work habits are causing the problem.
People often get “desk neck” from looking down for long periods or from reaching up to work. If possible, always at eye level.
Change the height of your chair, desk, or computer screen; use an upright stand to hold reading material; and use a stepladder instead of reaching up.
Take frequent breaks
Change positions often, especially if you have to be in a physically stressful position. Get up and walk around at least once an hour.
Unlearn “neck-bashing” habits
Do you crimp the phone between your neck and shoulder? Do you shave with your head tilt back? Also, do you shampoo your hair in the sink?
All of these habits can cause neck pain. Become aware of the habits that strain your neck and replace them with neck-healthy ones.
Sleep on a firm mattress
If you woke in the morning with a stiff or sore neck, your mattress, pillow, or sleeping habits are probably the culprit.Use a firm mattress to keep your head level.
Don’t sleep on your stomach, since it forces your head up. Avoid pillows that are too thick. Try feather or crushed-foam pillows rather than those of solid foam rubber.
Symptoms of neck pain
Signs and symptoms include:
- Pain that’s often worsened by holding your head in one place for long periods, such as when driving or working at a computer
- Muscle tightness and spasms
- Decreased ability to move your head
- A headache
Causes of neck pain
Your neck is flexible and supports the weight of your head, so it can be vulnerable to injuries and conditions that cause pain and restrict motion. Neck pain causes include:
- Muscle strains. Overuse, such as too many hours hunched over your computer or smartphone, often triggers muscle strains. Even minor things, such as reading in bed or gritting your teeth, can strain neck muscles.
- Worn joints. Just like the other joints in your body, your neck joints also tend to wear down with age. Osteoarthritis causes the cushions (cartilage) between your bones (vertebrae) to deteriorate. Your body then forms bone spurs that affect joint motion and cause pain.
- Nerve compression. Herniated disks or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can press on the nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
- Injuries. Rear-end auto collisions often result in a whiplash injury, which occurs when the head is jerked backward and then forward, straining the soft tissues of the neck.
- Diseases. Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis or cancer, can cause neck pain.
When to see a doctor
While most simple neck pain can be handled with home remedies, some type of neck pain should be checked by a doctor.
Seek immediate care if severe neck pain results from an injury, such as a motor vehicle accident, diving accident or fall.
Call the doctor if:
- Your pain is caused by an injury.
- Your neck pain is accompanied by fever, headache, and muscle ache.
- You have tingling or numbness in your neck
- You have disturbances.
- Your neck pain increases or persists for several days despite home treatments.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor might ask some of the following questions:
- Where exactly does your pain occur?
- Is the pain dull, sharp or shooting?
- Do you have numbness or weakness?
- Does the pain radiate into your arm?
- Is the pain made worse by straining, coughing or sneezing?
- Do you have other physical problems?
While most neck pain is associated with poor posture combined with age-related wear and tear. To help prevent neck pain, you must keep your head centered over your spine. Some simple changes in your daily routine may help. here are some that were mentioned above that you consider trying:
- Use good posture. When standing and sitting, be sure your shoulders are in a straight line over your hips and your ears are directly over your shoulders.
- Take frequent breaks. If you travel long distances or work long hours at your computer, get up, move around and stretch your neck and shoulders.
- Adjust your desk, chair, and computer so that the monitor is at eye level. Knees should be slightly lower than hips. Use your chair’s armrests.
- Avoid tucking the phone between your ear and shoulder when you talk. Use a headset or speakerphone instead.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking can put you at higher risk of developing neck pain.
- Avoid carrying heavy bags with straps over your shoulder. The weight can strain your neck.
- Sleep in a good position. Your head and neck should be aligned with your body. Use a small pillow under your neck. Try sleeping on your back with your thighs elevated on pillows, which will flatten your spinal muscles.