The neck is a part of the body prone to chronic pain. That’s one of the reasons phrases like “pain in the neck” are so common. The trick to managing any pain is to identify its source. That’s why we’ve compiled the most common causes of neck pain and ways to treat it.
Causes of Neck Pain
According to the CDC, over 60 percent of adults in the United States take part in less than the recommended amount of daily activity. This trend toward a more sedentary lifestyle has led to a rise in poor posture. Poor posture causes the spine to become misaligned and muscles in the neck to experience strain.
Many injuries can lead to neck pain, including injuries that don’t seem to affect the neck. Injuries like whiplash, pinched nerves, or slipped disk can occur because of traumatic scenarios like a fall or car accident, but they can also be the result of repetitive stress.
When we think of arthritis, we often think of joint pain or pain in the fingers. However, rheumatoid arthritis involves the immune system attacking its own tissues, and this can happen anywhere in the body. While it usually starts in the joints, if left untreated, arthritis can impact the neck as well.
Neck Pain Solutions
Poor posture causes neck muscle strain from holding your head in the same position for too long. A simple way to correct this is by stretching these muscles. Roll your head gently from side to side periodically. Getting up and stretching the rest of the body also helps by giving strained muscles a break and improving one’s posture.
Heat and Cold Therapy
One of the common causes of muscle pain is stiff muscles or inflammation. One way to target this kind of pain is through the application of heat and cold.
- Heat therapy: relaxes muscles and improves blood flow to stiff muscles
- Cold therapy: reduces blood flow, reducing swelling and inflammation
Keep in mind that heat can make inflammation worse, and cold can cause stiff muscles to grow stiffer, so keep the source of your pain in mind when applying this therapy.
One way to target both muscle stiffness and illness at the same time is to do a TENS treatment. This therapy involves attaching a wireless TENS unit to your skin, which sends electrical currents into your body. This helps reduce pain signals in the body. TENS units are often used in conjunction with physical therapies.
Choosing a Solution That’s Right for You
Depending on the cause of your neck pain, how you treat it will vary. Minor neck pain allows for a wider variety of solutions. But for scenarios like injuries or health conditions, consult your doctor.