Neck Pain: How to Prevent and Manage It

Like many people, you probably don’t think much about your neck until it starts to hurt. Then it’s hard to think about anything else.

Neck pain is a common problem, affecting 1 in 5 people aged 70 years and adults at some point in their lives.

The good news is that neck pain often gets better on its own within a few days or weeks, and there are many things you can do to help relieve the pain and speed up your recovery.

This article will provide you with some tips on how to prevent neck pain and what to do if you experience it.

What Is Neck Pain and What Are the Causes?

Neck pain is discomfort or soreness in the neck, typically between the bottom of the head and the top of the shoulders. It can be caused by a variety of things, including:

  • Poor posture.
  • Straining the neck during activities such as painting or using a computer for long periods.
  • Wearing high heels or other shoes that are not supportive.
  • Sleeping in an awkward position.
  • Jerking your neck during exercise.
  • Carrying a heavy bag or purse.
  • Stress or anxiety.
  • Arthritis or other age-related degenerative changes in the neck.

Neck Pain Symptoms

The symptoms of neck pain vary depending on the cause. They can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • A dull ache in the neck.
  • Sharp pain in the neck.
  • Stiffness or limited range of motion in the neck.
  • Pain that radiates to the shoulders, arms, or head.
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or arms.
  • Headache.
  • Fatigue.

How to Prevent Neck Pain

1. Make sure your computer monitor is at eye level

This will help you avoid neck strain from looking down at your screen all day long. Simply raising your monitor to the top-third of your computer screen can make a difference.

2. Stay well hydrated

Did you know that the discs in your spine are made mostly of water? Keeping them hydrated is essential to keeping them pliable and strong. So drink up!

3. Avoid neck strain from texting

We know, we know—it’s hard to put your phone down. But constantly looking down at your mobile device can lead to neck pain. Try raising your phone or mobile device to eye level instead, and take breaks every 20 minutes to give your neck a rest.

4. Try a new pillow

If you often wake up with a stiff neck, it might be time to invest in a new pillow that better supports your head and neck. Orthopedic pillows are a great option, specifically designed to relieve neck pain.

5. Carry weight evenly

When carrying heavy bags or boxes, distribute the weight evenly, so you’re not straining one side of your body more than the other. And remember always to use your legs when lifting—not your back!

4 Ways to Manage Neck Pain

1. Ice and Heat Therapy

One simplest and most effective ways to relieve neck pain is to alternate between ice and heat therapy. For the first 48 hours after the onset of pain, apply ice packs for 20 minutes at a time every hour.

After 48 hours, you can switch to heat therapy, using a heating pad or warm towel for 20 minutes at a time every hour. The ice will help reduce inflammation, and the heat will loosen up tight muscles.

2. Exercise, and Stretching

Exercise is important for overall health, but it can also help manage neck pain. Light aerobic exercises like walking or swimming can help keep the muscles in your neck and shoulders strong.

Stretching exercises can also help lengthen tight muscles and improve the range of motion. And if a specific injury or condition causes your neck pain, an exercise physiologist may be recommended to help you recover.

3. Move around Periodically to Avoid Stiffness

If you have a desk job or spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer, it’s essential to take breaks often and move around every 30 minutes. When you sit for long periods, be sure to use good posture; sit up straight with your shoulders back and your feet flat on the floor.

And when you sleep, use a pillow that supports your neck and keeps your spine in alignment. Sleeping on your stomach can contribute to neck pain, so it’s best to avoid that position if possible.

4. Get a Good Night Sleep

Many things can interfere with sleep, but if you suffer from chronic neck pain, it’s even more important to get enough rest. A lack of sleep will only make the pain worse. So create a relaxing bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible.

Avoid working or using electronic devices in bed; instead, use the time before bed to wind down and relax your mind and body. If you find yourself lying awake at night due to pain, try placing a pillow under your knees or taking an over-the-counter pain reliever before bedtime.

Final Thoughts

Neck pain is common, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying—or painful! If you’re dealing with chronic neck pain, there are some things you can do to reduce the discomfort and feel better.

The best thing you can do is try to prevent it from happening in the first place. One great way to do that is by regularly joining a gym and working out.

Exercising not only strengthens your muscles, but it also helps improve your posture, which can prevent neck pain from occurring. So if you’re looking for a way to improve your overall health and reduce your risk of neck pain, consider at least checking out for a gym membership.

Neck Pain: How to Prevent and Manage It
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