Why Does My Neck Hurt All The Time | Cardin & Miller PT

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Why Does My Neck Hurt All Of The Time?

Young woman with neck pain

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.

More Blogs From Cardin & Miller:

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What Can I Do About The Pain In My Neck?

What Are The Symptoms Of Neck Pain? 

senior man holding his neck in pain

The most common symptoms of neck pain we see are:

  • Neck sensitivity and soreness with applied pressure
  • A constant dull ache or sharp stabbing pain
  • Pain, numbness, and headache with a tingling sensation in the arms
  • Tightening of neck muscles or muscle spasms
  • An intense burning pain

What Causes Neck Pain? 

office worker holding his neck in 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:

Neck Strain

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. 

Injury

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.

Aging

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.

senior man holding his neck in pain

Excessive Stress

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.

Life Factors

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 

Physical Therapist examining patients neck to find the cause of their 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)

man receiving physical therapy for his neck pain

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:

  • Hands-on physical therapy: myofascial release and joint mobilization and, in some cases, manipulation
  • Therapeutic exercises to strengthen and stretch tendons and neck muscles
  • Use of TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to reduce pain by disrupting the pain signals via a low-level current in the area of the pain
  • Use of traction devices to stretch and relieve pain

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
that.

If you can't wait and want to stop your neck from hurting now, try the following tips:

  • Get adequate rest and sleep (aim for 7+ hours every night).
  • Use hot/cold compression treatments.
  • Consult with your Primary Care Physician about use of over-the-
    counter medication for inflammation and pain.
  • Decrease strenuous activities until your neck pain resolves.
  • Be sure to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
  • Lower stress levels through exercises and meditation, etc.
  • Give up smoking as it damages the bones, delays healing, and
    increases the possibility of developing neck pain.
  • Do specific strengthening exercises for shoulder and neck
    muscles.

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 

example of an ergonomic workspace to help reduce 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: 

  • Your shoulders should be erect and above the hips,
    with the ears above the shoulders when you need to
    use a digital device, such as a computer or laptop.
  • Your head should be upright and with the device
    positioned straight and away from the body, so there
    is no need to bend

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

  • Make sure the desk where you work has the computer monitor
    placed at eye level.
  • Choose a chair that ergonomically supports the natural curve of
    your back, with your knees resting lower than your hips when
    seated.

Time To Act Now

woman receiving physical therapy on her neck

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.

Jerry Kohout

Jerry Kohout

Jerry Kohout

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