How to Eliminate Neck Pain at Home and Work
Many people experience neck pain at some point in their lives, and it’s often brought on by stress and tension in the neck and upper back area, as well as muscle spasms that occur from repetitive motions such as typing or driving.
Over time, these symptoms can become chronic, leading to greater muscle tightness, swelling, and pain radiating from the neck down into the shoulders and arms or up into the head. Fortunately, there are several ways you can treat neck pain at home or work with just a few minutes of your time each day.
What is neck pain?
Neck pain is one of the most common types of pain. The lower neck often feels stiff when you wake up or after a long period of sitting in front of your computer. For some people, this pain may result from injury, such as whiplash from an automobile accident.
What are the causes of neck pain?
Neck muscles can become tense when you move your head, often described as neck stiffness or soreness. The following are the most common neck pain reasons:
- Watching TV, reading, or slouching.
- Falling asleep in an awkward position.
- Slouching in front of a desk for a lengthy period of time.
- Having an uncomfortable sitting position.
- Pushing the limits of physical movement in difficult and strange positions while working out.
- Diseases affecting the spine and nervous systems, such as fibromyalgia, torticollis, ruptured discs, spinal stenosis, cervical arthritis or spondylitis, cancer of the spine, etc.
- Physical congenital disabilities such as defects in the vertebral column and bones.
How to prevent neck pain?
There are several ways you can prevent neck pain from occurring in the first place:
- While lifting a heavy object, ensure your legs support most of its weight.
- Ensure that your posture is correct so you’re not over-stretching one muscle in particular, which can lead to pain or injury.
- Adjust your chair height so that your feet rest flat on the floor when sitting with proper posture, rather than raising them or stacking them on top of each other.
- When using a computer monitor, keep it as close to eye level as possible without having to crane your neck downward.
- Stay hydrated by drinking enough water during the day and taking breaks every hour or two to get up and walk around for 10-15 minutes.
- Keep exercise equipment handy, so you’re more likely to use it.
- Invest in a good ergonomic office chair if you spend much time seated throughout the day.
- Keep your head straight instead of looking down or leaning forward.
- Wear properly fitted shoes that support your feet and arches.
- Don’t take too much stress, as it will increase your chances of developing neck pain.
When to see a doctor?
Although neck pain is a common ailment, it’s best to consult a doctor or chiropractor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Severe neck pain that lasts more than 24 hours
- Neck pain in combination with fever, nausea, vomiting, or sudden weight loss
- Neck pain with dizziness, ringing in the ears, or numbness in the face
What are the treatment options for neck pain?
Depending on the neck pain causes, many types of drugs are available for treatment.
These include analgesics (pain relievers), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen, corticosteroids (such as prednisone), antiviral agents, and opioids. Antidepressants may also be prescribed for chronic pain conditions.
Physical therapy: The most common neck pain treatment is physical therapy, which shows you how to change positions to minimize pressure on your neck muscles. However, it’s best to consult a doctor about what type of care will work best to provide you neck pain relief.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): TENS has been shown to provide relief from certain types of neck pain. It works by sending mild pulses of electric current through wires placed across the skin near where you feel the pain.
TENS machines are widely available without prescription in medical supply stores, but they should only be used under the supervision of a medical professional.
Soft neck collar: One way to support your neck while working at a desk is by wearing a soft neck collar. You can buy these online, but you could also try making one out of old shirts.
Surgery and other procedures
Steroid injections: If your neck pain is caused by inflammation of the nerves in your spine, steroid injections may be helpful.
Injecting cortisone between the vertebrae can sometimes reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Surgery: Some patients with severe neck pain may need surgery to remove bone fragments that are pressing on a nerve or to repair a ruptured disc.
Surgery is more commonly needed when the pain is severe, lasts longer than 12 weeks, and doesn’t respond to conservative treatment.
The surgical procedure most commonly performed for neck pain is a cervical laminectomy. This procedure reduces pressure on the nerves in your spinal cord and may relieve your neck pain for several months.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Alternate heat and cold: Applying alternating warmth and coolness to the neck can help improve circulation, decrease muscle spasms, and relax tense muscles.
Home exercises: You can also try neck pain exercises at home. To stretch your neck, place your hand on the back of your head and slowly tilt your head toward one shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat three times.
To strengthen the muscles in your neck, stand with a good posture and tuck in your chin to look at the floor. Slowly turn your head to the right as far as it can go, and then return to the center position. Repeat on the left side of your body if required. These exercises will also help you reduce neck pain at work.
Massages: Massages can be soothing and relaxing, but be sure to check in with your medical provider before booking a session. They may want you to stay away from massages, especially if you’re recovering from a neck injury or an infection.
Chiropractic: This type of care focuses on the relationship between your body’s musculoskeletal system and the central nervous system.
Practitioners believe a misalignment in this relationship can lead to pain, limited mobility, and other health problems. These health issues are often attributed to subluxations or small displacements of bones in the spine. Often, chiropractors will work with you to change your habits and lifestyle to prevent recurring subluxations.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) technique that originated in ancient China. It involves the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at specific points on the body. Acupuncture is believed to unblock the body’s energy channels, known as meridians, that can cause pain and illness.
Any kind of body pain is an indication that your body needs attention. It can be something basic or chronic. If you are experiencing debilitating neck pain, you can reach out to the CK Birla Hospital or book an appointment with Dr Chirag Arora. Our team of dedicated doctors can diagnose your ailment and get you on the road to recovery.
Q1. How do I know if my neck pain is serious?
You should seek medical advice if your symptoms are unusual or persistent. If your neck pain is severe or debilitating, it can signify a more serious condition, such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. Either of these conditions can result in further damage, which may require surgery.
Q2. What cancers cause neck pain?
In many cases, neck pain is not caused by cancer. Instead, it may be a symptom of cancer, as in some throat cancers or lymphomas.
Q3. How long should neck pain last?
If your symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, you should see a doctor.
Q4. Is neck pain a symptom of stress?
While stressful situations can play a part in neck pain, it’s usually due to an underlying condition like arthritis or poor posture that needs treatment.
Q5. What are the symptoms of neck pain?
Common symptoms include stiffness in your neck, soreness when touching the back of your head, sharp pains on either side of your neck near the spine (sciatica), headaches near the eyes or base of the head, tingling sensation near the shoulders (cervical radiculopathy), difficulty rotating head left or right (atlantoaxial instability).
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