Neck Pain and Neck Pain Triggers You’ve Probably Never Thought Of
By Dr Greg Millar, DC CCEP; Dr Ken Randolph, DC ASBCE; Dr Justin Walbom, DC; Dr Ryan Friel, DC; Dr Jessica Davis, DC and Dr Kay Bishop, DC
Millar Chiropractic Clinics - Huntsville, Madison, Jones Valley and Decatur Alabama
Your neck is flexible and supports the weight of your head (10-12 lbs), 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 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. Bulging disc, herniated disks, or bone spurs in the vertebrae of your neck can press on the nerves or nerve roots branching out from the spinal cord.
- Injuries. Rear-end auto collisions often result in 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.
- Occupation. While not as common as low back pain, it is estimated that as much as 20% of workers have neck pain yearly. (Studies reported 16% for men and 20% for women). Machine operators, carpenters, and office workers have a lifetime prevalence of neck pain at 81%, 73% and 57% respectively. Other occupational neck pain jobs include sewing machinist (98%), welders (94%), teleprinter operators (79%) microscopist (66%), seamstress (60%).
- Sports Injuries. Sports injuries can last a lifetime. Sports like football, cheerleading, hockey, wrestling, gymnastics, track and field events, baseball, soccer, and more.
You find yourself seeking neck pain relief, but pinpointing the cause can sometimes be tough. To get to the bottom of the cause, you’ll need to take a look at your lifestyle. What’s Causing Your Neck Pain? Here are some things that cause neck pain that you might not have thought of:
1. Sleeping on Your Stomach: You know who you are. Stomach sleepers enjoy their sleep position so much that most of them don't want to change it even though it causes neck pain. The problem is that sleeping on your stomach causes your head to turn to the side for hours at a time. This forces your neck into an over rotated position for most of the night. It practically guarantees that you’ll have neck pain. The good news is that you can train your body to sleep in a new sleep position. Start slowly. If you wake up on your stomach, just switch to your side or back each time. Try this: Put a banana clip or clothes pin on the front of your pajamas. This may provide you with just enough discomfort to roll you over to your back or side.
2. Weight on Your Shoulder: Carrying a heave purse by the shoulder strap. Carrying bags things like dog food on you shoulder, Shoulder Rides for kids. Even though the shoulder can be nice and flat, its not designed to carry heavy weight. We have nerves exiting the neck into nerve plexus right at the top of the shoulder. Putting weight on this area is almost assured that you will have neck pain.
3. Your Phone: Most of us don’t hold our phones up high enough. Instead, we hold them down, forcing our neck into a compromised position for long periods of time. Over time, this causes a stiff neck and even neck pain as the weight of your head puts pressure on your neck. Change the way you hold your phone and never hold it up with your shoulder. If you’re sitting at work or at home and need to go online, opt for using the computer and keep the screen high enough that viewing it doesn’t force you to look down.
4. Neckties: Yep. You read that right. Neckties that are tied too tight increase tension in your neck. To make sure your tie is loose enough, check to see if you can fit the width of your finger between your shirt and neck. If not, loosen the tie. Finally, an excuse to loosen your necktie a bit more!
5. Your Computer Monitor: If your monitor is slightly off either too high or too low or to the left or right, you’re hurting your neck. Too high or too low causes you to move your head up or down to compensate. To the left or right causes you to turn your head to one side for an extended period of time. If your job requires you to sit at a desk for eight hours or more a day, neck pain is just waiting to happen. The solution? Move your monitor so that it is directly over your keyboard and elevate (by using books or a computer stand) it so that you don’t have to look down to see your screen.
6. Your Pillow: Your pillow has a lot to do with neck pain. Too much pillow, your head is bent forward and you'll have neck pain. We recommend sleeping with as little pillow as possible. Also too much pillow actually makes breathing harder.
7. Your Lights: If the lighting above your desk is insufficient, you’ll crane your neck forward to read your computer screen. The forward position of the head places stress on the upper vertebrae in your neck and the muscles at the base of your head. Headache and neck pain are often the result.
8. Your Eyes: Get your eyes checked. Near or far-sightedness, if left untreated, can cause craning of your head – similar to poor lighting conditions.
9. Late Night TV: We all love late night TV as much as the next guy, but if you’re in the habit of lying down with just a pillow propping up your head while you watch TV at night, your in for a double whammy! This position results in both a forward and a rotated position of the neck. Just like too much pillow this position puts stress on the back of the neck muscles.
10. Getting in and out of a car or truck. Most of us don't think about it but in order to get in and out of most cars and trucks we have to bend and croon our necks. This puts additional strain on neck muscles. Try to get in and out of your care holding your neck in one position as you get in and out.
Bonus: Today posture plays an important roll in neck pain. Is your head forward? Are you shoulders rounded forward? Is one shoulder higher than the other? If so you probable have or are going to have neck pain. We call this upper crossed syndrome and its produces neck pain with uncanny certainty. The good news is its treatable.
When to See Your Doctor: Neck pain often occurs over a long period of time. This makes it hard to uncover the cause. If you’ve eliminated these possible culprits and still find yourself seeking neck pain relief, a visit to your Millar Chiropractor can help. Millar Chiropractors specialize in neck pain relief through chiropractic adjustments and physiotherapy. Millar Chiropractors work to alleviate neck pain by restoring motion to joints and muscles.
Our team of experienced chiropractors specializes in treating neck pain at the source. To see if you can benefit from chiropractic care, call our office to schedule a free consultation today at 256 830-0000.
Millar Chiropractic Clinics
303 Williams Ave SW
Huntsville AL 35801