There are some causes of neck pain that are beyond our control: injuries sustained in car accidents, sports injuries, or injuries resulting over time from necessary repetitive motion. In addition, there exist chronic conditions that can also cause neck pain, including cervical spondylosis, which involves a small fracture of the bones of the neck; a narrowing of the spinal canal known as spinal stenosis; and a rupturing of an intervertebral disc. However, most neck pain that medical professionals diagnose are the results of preventable causes such as poor posture, stress and anxiety, and remaining stationary in prolonged positions with the neck bent. These types of injuries can cause imbalances in the neck muscles, which directly affect the deeper muscles that attach one vertebra to another causing them to weaken and become overstretched.
What you can do?
Neck pain might be minor and easily ignored, or it can be excruciating to the point where it interferes with important daily activities, such as sleep. Below we’ve listed some dos and don’ts to help prevent neck pain:
DO conscientiously maintain good posture. Aim to keep your neck in its neutral position. Avoid activity that would cause the head to lean forward or be cocked to one side for prolonged periods.
DO relax your shoulders and back. Unknowingly, many tense their shoulders and back muscles while working at a computer which does not aid in neck pain relief.
DO create an ergonomic workspace. Make sure you set up your workstation so your computer screen is at eye level and your feet are supported on the floor.
DO keep stress levels low. Stress is known to increase one’s perception of pain, and it tends to promote poor positioning and tension in muscles. Some have found it helpful to regularly practice yoga or tai chi, both of which are known to include an element of focused awareness and meditation.
DON'T roll your neck. It can increase the pain as there is a danger of grinding your bones together. Learn controlled movements that will gently stretch your neck. In order to ensure you are stretching correctly seek advise from a doctor.
DON'T hold your head in a bent position for more than 10 minutes, whether you're reading, watching TV, or at a computer. Change your position to keep your eyes looking straight ahead.
DON'T hold your phone between your neck and shoulder when talking on it. Although this position may free both of your hands it puts an unnecessary strain on the neck muscles.
DO seek professional care if your neck pain lasts more than two weeks. After running tests, it is likely that your doctor will refer you to work with a physical therapist, who will teach you how to do exercises to strengthen your neck.