Neck pain is excruciating and can sometimes radiate into your upper neck causing terrible headaches. This pain can be pretty life-altering if not taken care of. A lot of times people don’t even know what the proper protocol is for treating the pain. If left untreated your neck pain can become chronic and start to create more serious problems for your musculoskeletal system. In this article, we will explain what neck pain is, what positions to avoid, and how to treat it. The exercise we will demonstrate provides such a deep stretch it’ll feel like your neck is doing yoga.
How does Neck Pain Work?
Neck pain can happen from multiple different events. You may have experienced a neck injury or maybe you are sleeping in an improper way. What is happening inside of your neck that is causing the pain is something called inflammation. The tightness and muscle contractions in your neck are called spasms. Usually, Inflammation and muscle spasms come together. What causes inflammation is nerve irritation. Nerve irritation can happen in a couple of different ways. You could have had a serious injury that led to a biomechanical obstruction, medically known as a disc herniation. This causes nerve irritation. You also could have been putting your neck in an unnatural position that cut off proper nerve flow, leading to nerve irritation. No matter the cause: when nerve irritation is left untreated your neck is put into a chronic pain stage. Let’s look at the most common reason for neck pain: improper positions.
What Positions Cause Me Neck Pain?
There are a ton of positions that cause you neck pain that you’re most likely putting your neck in every single day. Whether it is sleeping improperly, slouching, or bending all of the pain positions have one thing in common: they all involve an improper or exaggerated position or range of motion for a prolonged period of time. Flexion, which we will go over later, isn’t a bad thing until your neck has been in flexion for an hour staring down at your phone or a computer. Sleeping in an improper position is one of the worst pain positions because you are sleeping in that position the entire night. If you’ve ever woken up with neck pain we suggest you take a look at the way you’re sleeping. Here’s a helpful video of proper sleep posture. Let’s take a look at some exercises that can help relieve the pain.
What Exercise Can Really Help me Alleviate the Pain?
Although there are a wide variety of neck pain positions we are going to go over the most common: prolonged flexion. What this means is you have bent your neck forward for too long. Like we discussed this could happen from staring at your phone for too long, having too many pillows under your head, etc. The way we counteract the pain and inflammation from the position is to perform an exercise called extension, often done with something called retraction. The extension exercise involves slowly bending the neck backwards. This puts the neck in the opposite direction of flexion to try to break up some of the inflammation caused in the prolonged position of flexion. Check out a video we made demonstrating the extension with retraction exercise.
Remember that this exercise needs to be done regularly. If you have a job that requires you to stare at a computer all day you should be taking breaks throughout the day to perform these exercises. We recommend doing a quick set of ten extension exercises every hour while in an uncomfortable position. This will make sure your neck avoids nerve irritation and inflammation.
If your neck pain doesn’t get better from routine exercises then it may be time to contact your musculoskeletal physician. Here at Underwood Healthcare, we pride ourselves on helping the individual needs of every patient. Give us a call to schedule your consultation and start your pain-free life.