If you’re suffering from neck pain, you’re not alone. Doctors estimate that as many as 7 out of 10 adults will be troubled by it at some point in their lives. While some simple causes are “sleeping funny”, or turning your head too quickly and giving yourself “whiplash,” there are plenty of activities we do that can cause neck pain. How does the neck support the body, and what mistakes can cause neck pain?
The neck, or cervical spine, is composed of 7 vertebrae that start at the base of the skull and end in the upper torso. These bones, along with ligaments and muscles, provide stability to the spine, and also support the movement and weight of the head. However, the neck is less protected than the rest of the spine, and is vulnerable to injuries and conditions that can restrict motion and cause neck pain. The following three mistakes may be contributing to your neck pain.
Millions of us are staring at smartphones or tablets for hours every day. This becomes a burden on the cervical spine, according to research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine, because as the head leans forward and down, pressure increases in the neck. The head weighs about 12 pounds, and its position on the spine is likened to resting a bowling ball on a golf tee. When that bowling ball leans forward, it takes a lot of muscular strength to hold it up, and the pressure on the spine can increase to as much as 60 pounds. Imagine carrying an 8 year old child on your neck for hours every day! Over time, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” will lead to advanced wear-and-tear on the spine, causing degeneration, and even requiring surgery.
While countless people are quitting smoking to reduce their health risks, few people realize that smoking contributes to chronic back and neck pain. “Smoking dehydrates the disks in your back and your neck and accelerates the degenerative process,” says Dr. Jeremy Smith, M.D., an orthopedic spinal surgeon and fellowship director at the Hoag Orthopedic Institute. Smoking will also reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients reaching the spine, leading to weakened, herniated discs that put pressure on the nerves, a leading neck pain cause.
Assuming it’s the Neck
The true source of chronic neck pain can be difficult to evaluate and treat, and sometimes the problem isn’t the neck. In a paper published by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, researchers studied a group of patients with neck pain near the shoulder blade, and determined their pain was actually a result of inflammation due to an impingement in the shoulder. 30 out of 34 people experienced immediate neck pain relief after receiving an injection to treat the problem, and the remaining four experienced substantial relief within weeks. Receiving an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan can alleviate neck pain at the source, instead of allowing it to become a chronic condition.
Is Neck Pain Slowing You Down?
At Envista Medical, our professional staff will use a variety of therapeutic approaches to manage your pain quickly and effectively, and to eliminate it at its source. Make an appointment with our neck pain specialists today!