While the phrase ‘a pain in the neck’ is a common colloquialism, there is a reason people associate neck pain with generally unpleasant things. Likewise, most people have experienced actual neck pain at some point and know it can be anything from bothersome to downright debilitating. Many people don’t realize their own behaviors are contributing to their neck pain, so we want to go over a few ways you may be putting stress on your neck.
- Chronic postural stress – While accidents and injuries used to be the leading cause of neck pain, the number one cause has changed due to the advent of the digital age. Many people experience neck pain as a result of sitting at a desk or typing on a computer for hours on end every day. Laptops and work-from-home jobs have expanded our workplace possibilities, but unless you are incredibly diligent about your posture at all times, you likely find yourself hunching over as you type or look down at your screen. This hunched position stresses your spine and can even cause it to curve or become otherwise misaligned, causing neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, and back pain.
- Sleeping incorrectly – Although sleeping seems like it should be fairly straightforward, there are actually several ways that doing it incorrectly can cause you to wake up feeling stiff or sore. Neck pain from sleeping has two primary sources: your pillow and your posture. Many people think a hard pillow will cause neck pain, but the opposite is more common. A pillow that is too soft can cause spinal misalignment because the neck is not properly supported. Your sleep position also plays an important part. Sleeping on your stomach can put pressure on your nerves, so you should try sleeping on your back or side to alleviate neck pain and stiffness.
- Carrying heavy bags – While it’s great to have everything you need close at hand, carrying around that heavy gym bag, backpack, purse, or briefcase can cause you a lot of pain. Carrying the bag on the same shoulder can cause it to roll forward and down, which then causes the muscles in your shoulder and neck to stretch and weaken. Bags without padding can also put pressure on your nerves and cause tingling, a burning sensation, or numbness.
Chiropractic care can help alleviate neck pain associated with all three of these sources, helping you live a healthier and more pain-free life. You should consult your chiropractor before making any significant lifestyle changes and discuss your current habits, medical history, and family history to help ensure there are no other underlying causes at play that need to be addressed.