Neck pain is a very common problem among my patients and among the population at large. While chiropractic treatment can relieve this pain and correct underlying situations, it’s also good to know how to prevent it. There have been times with my patients that we could not correct their neck pain until they adjusted the source of their neck joint and muscle aggravation.
Here are five very common causes of neck pain and how you can prevent it.
- Computer time. Most workstations are not set up well. Many people are forced to look up or down (down, mostly) as they gaze at their monitors. Or the monitor and keyboard are not lined up so the person’s body points one way and their head points to the left or right.
Solution: Correct the workstation. Your screen should be positioned so you can look straight ahead at the center of the screen. Your body and face should be aligned, both pointing straight forward. Your chair should allow you to sit straight up. You should not have to lean forward to see the screen or reach your keyboard. Ideally, your chair should also provide lumbar support and have armrests for your elbows. If there are no armrests, rest your arms on your desk.
- Mobile phone use. This cause of neck pain is extremely common and getting even more so, especially among young people. When we text, browse social media or play games, our heads tilt forward to look at our phones. As phones get bigger and heavier, holding them causes stress on our shoulders and necks because of the weight.
Solution: When looking at your phone, try to hold the phone up level with your face. If you’re going to be seated, there are many smartphone stands that extend as far as twenty inches to hold a smartphone near your face for easy viewing. For calls or listening to music, earbuds or putting the phone on speaker can keep you from having to hold the phone up to your head for extended periods.
- Poor sleep posture. When you sleep, your neck and head should be as parallel to the surface of the bed as possible. Using too many pillows, or a pillow that is too firm, will bend your head upwards. This eventually causes pain for most people.
Solution: Find an orthopedic pillow that feels comfortable. Make sure your mattress is firm enough to support your neck. If it is too soft or too old, you will sink into it and your neck will wind up bent.
- Falls. When most of us fall, we stretch out a hand to try to break our fall. When we land on this hand, the shock of the fall is transmitted to the upper back and neck.
Solution: With a little bit of care, you can create an environment that is less likely to cause falls. Walk through your house or work environment and look for points where your feet could get caught. Look for extension cords, charge cords, curling rugs, packages left on the floor and similar items. Ensure a bathroom has nonslip mats both in the bath or shower and outside of it.
Be alert when you are walking outside and look for branches and uneven sidewalks, especially around the base of large trees. Protect yourself by turning on the lights when walking through the house at night and go ahead and use those stairway handrails. While different engagements require different types of shoes, you’re safest when you wear low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes. Safe practices like these can pay off by preventing accidents that could require a long time for recovery.
- Car accidents. Even minor accidents can cause your neck to lock up, resulting in long-lasting pain. That’s because your head is pretty heavy compared to the structures that support it. In a car accident, your head will bounce around significantly, even if you are not aware of it.
Solution: Drive defensively, not aggressively, to reduce your risk of accidents. Try to plan your trips so you don’t have to drive when you are tired or in weather that could trigger a higher number of accidents. Never use your mobile phone for calls or text as this increases your risk of an accident.
And of course, if you do experience neck pain, the right thing to do is to come see me so I can help relieve your pain and then go on to correct any underlying conditions. Chiropractic adjustments and the Pressure Point Therapy that I offer with each adjustment go a long way to getting you out of pain. I’m the only chiropractor in the St. Louis area to offer this Pressure Point Therapy that relieves painful knots of energy located on your body’s nerve pathways. Give me a call at (314) 635-1008 when you need help with neck pain.