If you think about the mechanics of your neck, you’ll realize it’s not surprising how easily it can be injured. It has amazing flexibility, is constantly on the move, has very little muscular support, but has to support the 14 – 16 pounds of your head. It is like balancing a bowling ball on a stick using only elastic bands.
Consider that your spinal cord runs down a space in the center of the vertebrae, which protects it from harm. Along large bundles of nerves running out from between each pair of vertebrae, nerve impulses are sent to every part of the body. From your cervical vertebrae, impulses are sent to your arms, and some into your upper back. Thus pain in your arm, such as numbness, tingling, cold, aching, or “pins and needles”, may be referred from the neck. People with neck problems may mistake their pain for carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition in the hands that is often caused by repeating the same repetitive motions for long periods.
Neck problems can also lead to headaches, muscle spasms in the shoulders and upper back, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), inflammation in the middle ear (otitis media), temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), or simply a restricted range of motion and severe tightness in the neck and upper back. Issues from the neck can show up in the upper back because many neck muscles originate there, including the trapezius, the levator scapulae, the cervical paraspinal muscles and the scalenes. Call 720-493-5885.
Most Common Causes of Neck Pain in Lakewood
- Sleeping in wrong position. Often referred to as a “crick” in the neck, a person might wake up in the morning with neck pain due to sleeping in an awkward or atypical position that overextended the neck.
- Repetitive motions. Turning the head in a repetitive manner, such as side to side while dancing or swimming, may lead to overuse of the neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- Holding the head in unusual position. Anything that requires holding the head in an unusual way for long periods of time could cause neck strains and sprains. Some examples include having a long conversation while cradling a phone between the head and shoulder, or spending an afternoon looking up at an air show.
- Whiplash. In a whiplash injury, the head and neck are forced suddenly forward and immediately backward with a great deal of force. The soft tissues along and near the cervical spine can be torn or ruptured as a result. This type of injury commonly occurs in an auto accident that involves a rear-end collision.
- Sports injury. A person could move the neck suddenly and/or in an unusual way in a new sport, or a player could have a collision or fall. A common sports collision injury is a stinger, which happens when nerves in the neck/shoulder are impacted and pain, numbness, and weakness can radiate down the shoulder, arm, and arm.
3 Tips To Prevent Neck Pain-Lakewood Chiropractor
- Try a new pillow.
- In terms of comfort and support for your neck while you sleep, there are many options and you may need some trial and error to find what works best for you. As a general rule, it is best to use a pillow that keeps your cervical spine in neutral alignment—meaning, the natural curve of your neck is supported and maintained.
- Sleep on your back if you can.
In general, sleeping on your back is the best position to let your entire spine rest comfortably. Some people with neck problems find it helps to sleep on their back and place a pillow under each arm, with the idea that supporting each arm takes strain off the neck.
Some people with spinal arthritis or stenosis may find that sleeping at a slight incline is easier, so they add a foam wedge pillow to their bed and/or switch to an adjustable bed.
- Make sure your computer monitor is at eye level.
Sit comfortably in front of your computer and close your eyes. When you open them, your gaze should be directly in the middle of your computer screen. If you find you have to look down, you need to prop up your monitor so that it is higher.
Laptops most often require you to angle your head downward to see the screen, so connecting your laptop to a separate monitor, or screen, is often very helpful.
Home Care For a Neck Pain-Lakewood Chiropractor
- Rest. Taking it easy for one or two days gives injured tissues a chance to begin to heal, which in turn will help relieve stiffness and possible muscle spasm. For example, someone who swims may want to avoid certain swim strokes that involve lots of head twisting for a few days. However, it is recommended to limit rest to one or two days, as too much inactivity can lead to a weakening of the muscles, and weak muscles have to struggle to adequately support the neck and head.
- Cold and/or heat therapy. Cold therapy/ice packs help relieve most types of neck stiffness by reducing local inflammation. Applying ice during the first 24 to 48 hours of a painful flare-up usually has the most benefit in terms of reducing inflammation. Applying heat to the neck can spur blood flow, which fosters a better healing environment. Some patients prefer ice, whereas others prefer heat. Both may be used alternately.
- Gentle stretching. Stretching, as soon as tolerated, helps ease the stiffness and restore the neck to a more natural range of motion. For many, it is a good idea to learn appropriate stretches with the help of a chiropractor.
Stretches To Keep Your Neck Healthy-Lakewood
Simple neck and shoulder stretches are important to loosen tension, reduce stiffness and spasms, improve alignment and improve blood flow, for example:
- Tuck the chin down toward the neck, then slowly raise it up toward the ceiling.
- Rotate the head so that it is looking out over one shoulder, then turn slowly and rotate in the other direction.
- Rotate the shoulders in a clockwise direction while holding the arms down by the sides of the body; repeat in a counter clockwise direction.
- Place your hands together behind your back and slowly move them downward while extending your head back. Hold for 5 seconds and return.
- Place both arms up and walk into a corner. Extend your head back and lean into the corner until you feel your chest and shoulders stretch. Hole for 10-15 seconds.
- Turn your head as far as you can to one side. Nod your head up and down as far as possible comfortably. Hold each position for 3 seconds. Repeat to the other side. Do 3-5 times.
When To Seek Chiropractic Care For Neck Pain-Lakewood
- Sharp pain. This symptom can be pain localized to one spot and might feel like it’s stabbing or stinging. Often, this type of pain occurs in the lower levels of the neck.
- General soreness. The pain is mostly in one spot or area on the neck, and it’s described as tender or achy, not sharp.
- Radiating pain. The pain can radiate along a nerve from the neck into the shoulders and arms. The intensity can vary and this nerve pain might feel like it’s burning or searing.
- Stiff neck. Soreness and difficulty moving the neck, especially when trying to turn the head from side to side.
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness. These sensations can go beyond the neck and radiate into the shoulder, arm or finger. There could be a “pins-and-needles” sensation. Typically, pain that radiates down the arm is felt in only one arm, not both.
- Trouble with gripping or lifting objects. This can happen if tingling, numbness, or weakness in the fingers is present.
- Headaches. Sometimes an irritation in the neck can also affect muscles and nerves connected to the head. This could be a tension headache, such as from neck muscles tightening; or occipital neuralgia, where a pinched occipital nerve in the neck causes pain to radiate up into the head’s sides and scalp.
If neck pain symptoms progress, it can become difficult to sleep. This type of pain may also interfere with other daily activities, such as getting dressed or going to work, or any activity that involves turning the head, such as driving. Increasing neck pain with associated weakness, numbness and tingling is a concern call Renew Chiropractic promptly for further evaluation. 720-493-5885.