Recent research estimates that about 80% of adults suffer from neck pain at some point in their lives. In some cases, you may experience a stiff neck as you wake up each morning or a neck ache after a busy day. Reasons for neck pains or neck stiffness are endless.
Knowledge of the various types of neck pain that won’t go away and how each type manifests may guide you in knowing the underlying condition.
In some individuals, neck pain results from incorrect posture, while in others, diseases, car crashes, or other injuries cause neck pain or neck stiffness. Neck pain could be short-lived. It is common after sleeping in an uncomfortable position or lifting weighty materials. After a few days, the problem begins to vanish until it disappears entirely in a few weeks gradually.
A stiff neck occurs as a result of muscle strain. Also, neck stiffness may develop upon injury of one or more vertebrae. Neck stiffness is associated with severe pain as you try to move your head from side to side. In case you or an individual close to you experience neck pain, be it daily or intermittently, it could be for several reasons. Significant contributors to neck pain include:
Causes Of Persistent Neck Pain
Aging is one of the significant contributors to persistent neck pains. A combination of sedimentary lifestyle coupled with reduced physical activities and body aging accelerates the aging process.
To prevent accelerated aging, which is a risk factor for neck pain, consider engaging in water exercises, Tai Chi, strength training, and saving energy. Geriatrics are also encouraged to engage in physical activities and adopt healthy eating habits.
2. Poor Diet
Most individuals do not move their bodies enough, making obesity a significant concern. Findings link excessive weight to be a risk factor for both back and neck pain. Consider incorporating healthy nutrition in your busy schedule to stay fit and prevent any future neck pain.
Smartphones available in both professional and personal environments have transformed communication between people. Unfortunately, such technology’s portability doesn’t support the right ergonomic, especially neck pain linked to spinal problems. Musculoskeletal disorders resulting from smartphones include loading of shoulder and neck muscles and muscle fatigue.
Repeating motions of the arms, wrists, and hands are the causes of such musculoskeletal disorders. The resultant effect is quivers, stiffness, and pain in the arms, shoulders, and neck region. With prolonged use of smartphones, fatigue, and exacerbates weight problems. While using your smartphones, it’s healthy to consider taking a minimum of a 20-minute break.
Even though technology is currently an integral part of almost everything we do, it is not always the best for us. A better ergonomic work environment is key to realizing a postural endurance.
Sit-stand job setup is becoming more popular, and employees are encouraged to create time away from the screens to allow their bodies to move frequently. Kneeling chairs’ popularity is also growing at a fast rate as they appear appealing.
Severe injuries to the neck may cause whiplash. Most people experience whiplash after car accidents, which make their heads to jerk suddenly backward and forward. Whiplash damage the nerves, ligaments, bones, and muscles of the neck. It leads to neck stiffness and pain.
More whiplash symptoms include difficulty in concentrating, burning, or prickling sensation in the neck region. Shoulder pain, dizziness, and headache also accompany whiplash.
In some instances, infections such as meningitis cause neck stiffness. Fungi, bacteria, or virus may be the causative agent of meningitis. Viral meningitis may resolve by itself after a short period. However, both fungal and bacterial meningitis could be life-threatening.
Meningitis is associated with neck stiffness, headache, and fever. Other meningitis symptoms include the inability to get up from sleep, confusion, irritability, and sensitivity to light. If you experience neck stiffness together with the above symptoms, promptly seek medical care.
Arthritis or cervical spondylosis may also be the cause of neck stiffness and pain. The pain becomes less intense when lying down. The neck pain exacerbates if you remain in the exact position for a prolonged time, such as driving.
If you experience neck stiffness together with weaknesses in your arms or legs, improper balance, numbness, and headache, reach out to your physician as fast as possible.
Neck Stiffness Treatment
The most suitable method of relieving neck stiffness relies on the causative agent. You can manage acute neck pain through the following ways:
1. Applying Alternate Heat And Cold Therapy
To relieve muscle strain on the neck, you may alternate the use of heat and ice. Taking a hot bath or using heat pads will assist you in providing relief to the tensed muscles.
After minor strains, applying an ice pack can assist in relieving swelling and inflammation in general. The ice has a numbing effect to reduce the neck pain temporarily. The method is effective within 48 hours following injury when swelling that accompanies inflammation is still significant.
You may use a first-aid ice pack or cover the ice bag using cloth to prevent frostbite. Each session for applying the ice lasts for 20 minutes with about 20 to 30 minutes break.
Most of the neck pain results from stiffness in the upper back and upper neck. The aim is to ensure the mobility of such areas to relieve the strain and restoration of natural mobility to the entire shoulder and neck region.
Slowly and gently stretching neck muscles while moving your head from one side to the other helps relieve the neck pain. In the process, roll your shoulders backward and forward. If the stretching process elicits more pain, it is advisable to terminate it.
3. Shoulder Retractions
While sitting, relax your neck, gently move both shoulder blades back. Do not hunch up the shoulders. Carry out the process slowly and smoothly. Repeat the process ten times and repeat the technique several times daily to loosen the neck.
4. Take OTC Medicines
If both heat and ice applications do not help relieve the neck pain, you may opt for NSAID drugs. Drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen are effective in reducing neck pain and swelling. However, if you have underlying conditions such as peptic ulcer disease that may be aggregated by such NSAID, consult your physician before taking the medication.
5. Maintain Good Posture
Maintain the right posture all the time. Prolonged concentration on your phones and computers contributes to stress totaling to 40lbs on the neck for hours. As you concentrate on your tablet or phone, ensure that you are at an eye level with the screen instead of looking down.
While sitting, consider using small rolled towels at your back so that you sit tall. Do not slouch on the chair or couches. Ensure you are comfortable as you sit tall. Slouching is undesirable because it may gradually pull your neck muscles, causing pain and stiffness. You may also consider wearing posture-correcting devices.
6. Change the Way You Sleep
Mattresses that are not sufficiently supportive or too firm may lead to neck pain. You may also experience similar pain while using pillows that are too firm or pillows of incorrect size. Get cushions that suit your sleeping position. Align your back, neck, and head properly as you sleep.
If you are a side sleeper, consider a broad and firm pillow. Flatter pillows that support both the head and neck are the most suitable for back sleepers. You need to keep your neck throughout the night. Avoiding sleeping on the stomach as it leads to excessive straining of the neck joints and muscles.
7. Chin Tucks
Using the right posture, stand against the walls using your back. As you continue to look forward, gently press your head’s back onto the wall.
Do not worry if your head can’t reach the wall. Maintain your chin and eye levels. Feel a slight stretch on your neck but do not press it harder. Continue holding for about five seconds, then repeat the process about ten times. Consider repeating the whole procedure about two to three times daily.
8. Get A Massage
A professional therapist may assist you in providing relief to the sore and tense neck muscles. A study carried out on patients who have arthritis revealed that massage lowered the pain caused by neck arthritis.
Managing Chronic Neck Pain
The pain becomes chronic in case it persists even after numerous attempts to control it. Precautions include reducing the neck burden by sitting most times in improved posture as you practice the home remedies.
However, consider contacting a physician or physical therapist to help you manage the chronic pain as there could be numerous underlying conditions. It is also necessary to seek professional services to prevent further damage and pain to the neck. Note that managing pain from torn ligaments differs from managing pain caused by tightened muscles.
Your therapist will apply hands-on techniques and particular PT exercises in addressing the origin of chronic pain to assist you live free of neck pain. However, a positive outcome will only be possible with proper physical therapies.
Neck pain is a common condition that you can prevent or manage through home remedies. Even though it may not mean there is a severe underlying condition, please do not ignore it. Always contact your physician before initiating any unfamiliar exercise.