Neck Pain? Tips to Avoid Chronic Discomfort
For many people, neck pain is a common occurrence. Whether you’re waking up with minor pain or living with chronic discomfort that lasts throughout the day, here are some tips to help prevent neck pain from taking a toll on your quality of life.
Maintain Proper Posture
Poor posture often contributes to neck pain, even though we may not realize it. Many of our daily activities perpetuate neck pain, including working at a desk or looking down at our phones or other electronic devices. To help avoid neck pain, it is necessary to keep the head and shoulders aligned, allowing the neck to maintain an upright position. Even a slight shift forward can put several pounds of extra pressure on both the spine and the muscles in the upper back and neck.
Try a New Pillow
Finding the right pillow may be the key to avoiding neck pain, even though it may take some trial and error. Generally, your pillow should allow your cervical spine to stay aligned throughout the night, providing support for your neck’s natural curvature. Many people find relief using a relatively flat pillow, as it does not require the neck to curve forward while the user is lying down. Orthopedic pillows are also a popular option because they provide extra support beneath the cervical spine and have a dedicated depression designed to cradle the user’s head. Whatever the pillow design may be, monitoring neck pain upon waking will help you choose the most appropriate pillow for your needs.
Keep Electronics at Eye Level
Computer screens and cell phones are major culprits of unrelenting neck pain. Tilting the head forward to look down at these screens puts excessive stress on the spine and muscles in the neck. Over time, this excessive stress can create degenerative conditions within the spine, leading to chronic pain and loss of normal curvature. To avoid this, do your best to keep all screens at eye level, even if that means holding your phone a bit higher than usual. Additionally, make sure to take frequent breaks from texting or browsing to allow the neck to recover from undue stress.
While hydration may not seem related to neck pain, staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to maintain the integrity of your spinal discs. These discs are primarily composed of water, so adequate hydration throughout the day will keep them strong and flexible. Not only do they provide support for the vertebrae, they also allow us to move throughout our normal range of motion. Chronic pain occurs when these discs cannot function properly.
Be Conscious of How You Carry Weight
Carrying a purse, bag, or briefcase on one side of the body can cause the shoulders to become uneven, leading to neck pain. To avoid this, try to carry only essentials. This can drastically lighten your load and put less stress on the muscles of the upper body. A backpack may be another consideration for those who must carry heavier loads as it evenly distributes weight across both shoulders.
Exercise and Stretch
Exercising and stretching the neck can have very positive results for those experiencing regular neck pain. One of the most effective exercises for the muscles in the neck is called the ‘chin tuck’ and can be performed just about anywhere. To perform this exercise, stand with your back against a wall and tuck your chin backward, without tilting the head upward. Tuck the chin backward until your head is touching the wall and hold this posture for a few seconds. Repeat this exercise several times and follow with some light stretching. This movement strengthens the muscles that pull the head and neck into alignment with the shoulders, effectively reducing posture-related neck pain.
Chronic neck pain may signal a more serious issue with your spine. At the Spine Institute of Marc A. Cohen, we specialize in treating the spine and all associated ailments. Speak with one of our specialists today. Call 973-538-4444 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.