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Back Health Blog

All You Need to Know About Neck Pain

Friday, January 10, 2014
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Neck pain is a very common ailment in today's working environment.  The incidence is “generally higher in women, higher in high-income countries compared with low- and middle-income countries and higher in urban areas compared with rural areas.” (from The epidemiology of neck pain, University of Queensland, 2010)

Long hours at the computer, poor posture such as forward head carriage, or poor workstation ergonomics are major factors that can cause neck strains.  The popular use of mobile devices for work and play which often involves extended periods of flexion of the neck also increases the risk of soft tissue injury.

Symptoms:

Tension, soreness and limited ranges of motion in the neck area.  These are signs of inflammation within the soft tissues as a result of injury.  Sometimes popping sounds can be heard with gentle movement of the neck, which may indicate incoherent joint functions.  Headache may also originate from excessive muscle strains in the neck.

Treatment:

For minor strains, a few days of rest may be all it takes to recover itself.  However, if the pain persists beyond that period, or waking up with a "wry neck" (painfully twisted and stiff neck) is common place, then a thorough examination by a chiropractor is warranted.  Treatments include spinal manipulation to re-align the joints, and various soft tissue therapies to relieve pain.  Your chiropractor may also prescribe specific exercises to strengthen your neck muscles to prevent future neck pain.

How to prevent neck pain:

  • Keep a correct working posture: the computer monitor must be placed directly in front of you, with an optimal distance of about an arm's length.  Avoid forward shifting of your head by tucking the chin in so that the head is aligned with the spine.
  • Mobile devices have become indispensable items in our daily lives.  But the small screens require our head or even the whole upper body to bend forward in order to focus on them.  Taking frequent breaks every 15 minutes by moving the neck through different ranges of motion can reduce the chance of neck strain.
  • If you often wake up with a stiff neck, it could be because of your sleeping posture.  Avoid sleeping on your stomach as your neck would be twisted to one side.  Pillows that are too high or too low, too firm or too soft do not provide optimal support of the neck. Choose a supportive pillow to ensure alignment of the head with the spine in your preferred sleeping posture, either on your back or on any side.

 

More details can be found under Common Conditions on Neck Pain.