If your neck is causing you pain and you wince every time you turn your head, you’re not alone. Neck pain accounts for nearly 20% of all chiropractic office visits.
Many people with neck pain haven’t had an injury or an accident and have no idea where their pain originated. If you’re one of these people, your job might be the culprit – and here are two of the most common ways neck pain might show up:
Neck Pain Caused By a Lack of Movement
Does your job require you spend a large amount of time in front of a computer, tablet or mobile phone? If so, your neck pain may be caused by a lack of movement.
When you sit still at the computer or stare down at your phone, you aren’t moving your upper back and neck. This can cause your muscles to shorten and become stiff, which can subsequently result in your joints becoming stiff and have difficulty moving.
The constant strain on the neck of looking down towards a computer or screen can add tension to your muscles, and when you eventually move, it may cause pain. Your immediate reaction may be to stop moving to prevent more pain, but this will only make the problem worse. Instead, do gentle stretching to help loosen the affected areas.
Neck Pain Caused By Anxiety
Anxiety can impact your neck in a variety of ways. Sometimes the neck muscles become strained and cause muscle spasms. For many people, anxiety creates a nagging ache in the muscles that can persist throughout the day and night. When stress or anxiety is present, muscle tension can increase and cause pain.
Your neck consists of two main groups of muscles, the anterior (front) and the posterior (back). Most of the muscles are located in the posterior part of the neck, but your neck relies on all the muscles to function correctly.
The muscles in your neck work to move your head side to side or up and down. When you have anxiety, the tension it causes in your neck can limit the muscle’s ability to move in some or all of the normal directions.
Neck pain due to anxiety can be alleviated by relaxing the affected muscles. However, this becomes more complicated if your body is accustomed to having tension. When this is the case, your muscles tighten up as a reflex to prevent injury and hold the tension in. When you have anxiety, your body expects pain, so your muscles tighten up, even if there isn’t any reason to be anxious. It becomes a vicious circle of anxiety and pain.
Reducing Your Neck Pain
Breathing to reduce neck pain:
Using a structured breathing technique, you can help to reduce the effects of anxiety on your body and eliminate tension on your neck. Through deep breathing, you can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and clear your mind of troubling thoughts. While this is happening, your muscles will return to normal.
Stretching to reduce neck pain:
Using stretching exercises frequently can help to reduce both the stress and the pain caused by anxiety. You can do simple exercises at your desk, in the car, or anytime you feel your neck muscles starting to tighten as the result of stress. By regularly stretching your neck, you are encouraging the muscles to release the tension they may be holding.
Exercising to reduce neck pain
A regular pattern of exercise can have a positive effect on your mental and physical health. It isn’t necessary to focus your exercise efforts on your neck muscles, although it can help to alleviate neck pain. Simply adding a few new exercises to your routine can improve neck strength over time. Optimal exercise includes 20 minutes of a workout three to five times a week. This can greatly improve your body’s ability to get rid of the tension from anxiety. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Massage to reduce neck pain:
A massage can help your muscles return to a normal range of motion and rest. The massage works to help your muscles release tension and allows you to relax both physically and mentally.
Diet to reduce neck pain
By improving your diet, you’ll manage stress more effectively, which in turn can help reduce tension in your neck. Some foods to avoid include caffeine, such as chocolate, coffee or soda. Eating more vegetables will help your body with the nutrients it needs to repair itself and function well.
A chiropractor can help you get to the root cause of your neck pain. Contact our office today to schedule an evaluation and find out how our doctors and specialists can help you overcome your pain.