Is your neck uncomfortable and sore ALL of the time? Do you want to know why?
Neck pain is any pain in the area we call the "cervical spine," which is beneath the head.
Neck pain occurs for various reasons, but the most common causes we see are chronic stress and tension, an injury, or a pre-existing condition.
Do you know what is causing yours?
There are two types of neck pain: axial pain – in the neck only; and radicular – neck pain that travels to other areas of the body like the arms or shoulders.
Both types of neck pain may be acute (lasting a few days up to six weeks) or become chronic (lasting longer than three months, sometimes years).
Without treatment, neck pain can seriously affect your quality of life.
Who is at risk?
Unfortunately, the number of people who have neck pain is rising due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, lack of regular exercise, and chronic use of smartphones and other devices.
We also know that neck pain is more common as we get older – through wear and tear, and women tend to be more susceptible than men.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Neck Pain?
The most common symptoms of neck pain we see are:
What Causes Neck Pain?
There are many possible reasons for chronic neck pain, from injuries to medical conditions.
The root cause of your neck pain is specific to you and can often require a physical therapist to pinpoint and diagnose it.
But the most common ones we see at Cardin & Miller are:
You can strain your neck from strenuous and repetitive activities, which results in soreness and pain over time.
This type of neck pain is most likely caused by repetitive activities at work, from playing sports or even at home.
Any sudden movement or trauma to the neck (cervical spine) that causes your neck or head to rebound may lead to soreness and pain.
Also known as whiplash, sudden neck movements can damage the connective tissues, ligaments, vertebral joints, and neck disks, leading to neck pain.
We’ve all heard it before: the age-related wear and tear on the body; osteoarthritis, that causes joint
cartilage to wear down or for spinal stenosis (the space between the joints
narrows) to occur.
With the passing of time, the disks in the spine can reduce in size, leading to a pinched nerve or herniated disk that results in neck pain.
So, if you are over a certain age, this could be the reason for your neck
pain. But not always … some individuals can have “the worst arthritis their
orthopedic surgeon has ever seen” and still be pain-free! Plus, there are
things we can do to fix and prevent these issues regardless of your age.
When we’re highly stressed, many of us tense our neck muscles in
response to inner stress and turmoil which, if it continues, can lead to
stiffness and pain.
There are certain conditions like obesity, weak abdominal muscles, and
poor posture due to slouching at the computer that can affect the spinal
balance and lead to neck pain.
Any Abnormal Growth
In rare cases, abnormal tissue growth can affect the cervical spine and
cause neck pain, such as bone spurs, cysts, or benign tumors.
Other serious medical conditions like cancer and meningitis can also cause neck pain.
Finding The Root Cause Of Neck Pain
Primary care physicians tend to prescribe muscle relaxants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, or steroid injections to lower inflammation and reduce neck pain.
But these strategies are only a temporary fix, and when used chronically,
they’re bad for your long-term health.
If you always have neck pain, it's important to find the root cause if you want long-term relief.
To do this, physical therapists check your medical history, assess your neck's muscle strength and mobility, and pinpoint the problem areas.
We also check your reflexes and ask about previous injuries and your personal and professional activities. This process usually leads us to the root cause.
However, in some cases, we may recommend further tests - for example,
an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI to examine your neck's connective tissues and
bones to look for damage.
We're most likely to recommend these additional tests if you've had a recent injury or have the symptoms of arthritis.
Additionally, depending on the initial evaluation results, you may require a myelogram, electromyography, or nerve conduction tests to check your spinal disks, muscles, and nerve responses.
But in most of the cases, we can determine the root cause of your
pain from a physical examination at the clinic, often within 20 minutes.
How To Stop Your Neck Hurting (All The Time)
Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for neck pain, but the exact course of treatment is subject to your root cause.
Generally, physical therapy for neck pain focuses on better functionality, increased mobility, and pain alleviation.
Some of the common treatments we use include:
In severe cases, surgery may be recommended for damaged fused vertebrae or spinal disks.
Surgery for neck pain is rare, but that's why it's important not to put off
seeking treatment for it. Things can and do get worse, but we can prevent
If you can't wait and want to stop your neck from hurting now, try the following tips:
Gentle stretches or exercises will help to strengthen and stretch neck
muscles, but you must stop immediately and consult a Physical Therapist
if they make your neck pain worse. Do not push through the pain.
How To Prevent Neck Pain
The best way to treat neck pain is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. How?
In most cases, neck pain correlates to poor posture in a chronic head-
forward position, which can worsen over time if unaddressed.
But contrary to what you may hear about “one perfect posture,” there is none.
Rather, a better way to think about addressing this hot-button topic is:
To reduce and prevent neck pain, keeping your head aligned with the top of your spine is essential.
To make this easier, you can make changes to your routine activities, such as:
Getting Up Periodically
Whether sitting for a long duration or traveling long distances,
make it a point to get up, stretch your legs, and walk around for a
while. Stretch your shoulders and neck a bit too.
Concentrating On The Correct Posture
- If your job requires prolonged sitting and you start to notice
you’re slouching, consider these readjustments:
Sleeping In A Comfortable Position
Use a pillow under the neck and sleep on your back with your thighs supported by a pillow to ensure your back muscles are in the right position.
Adjusting Your Workspace
Time To Act Now
Here at Cardin & Miller PT we specialize in dealing with all kinds of neck pain.
You don't need to suffer any more; the longer you leave it the longer you
have to live with the pain.
We can offer new customers a FREE 15 minute session with one of our highly trained Physical Therapists.
When you leave this session, you will know exactly what is wrong and have
a better understanding of how physical therapy can benefit you.
Even if you can't make it to our clinic, we can offer you a FREE telephone consultation, where you'll be able to speak to one of our Physical Therapists.
We can get you back to living the fullest life without the fear of your neck
pain ruining your every day.