Identify your “Discomfort Zone” and Get Out!
Cervical or neck pain can be excruciatingly debilitating or irritatingly uncomfortable. Depending on the extent of the stress or damage to the area, a pain in the neck can range from mild discomfort to shooting pain that does not allow for any kind of neck movement.
Neck movement is such an integral part of daily life that one doesn’t even realize how amazingly flexible the neck is until it stops doing its job. In that sense, it’s like any other essential service – unappreciated until absent.
If you are experiencing any kind of discomfort, stiffness or pain in the neck region, the first step you need to take is to identify the root cause of the problem.
Most types of neck pain do not set in overnight; they are the result of several years of improper posture, excessive and repeated strain and other causal factors.
Aside from trauma or impact-injury-related conditions, most other types of neck pain are essentially lifestyle afflictions.
If you want to get to the source of the problem, trace it back from the present condition. For example, if you feel stiffness in the neck, think back and see if you’ve had a strenuous week at work, or started a new physical exercise or sport in the past few days.
If the pain is limited to an uncomfortable stiffness, then continuing the exercise or sport will most likely get rid of the problem because your muscles will be used to the movement by then.
However, if the pain persists, then stop that exercise or sport right away and see if the pain goes away. If it does, you can chalk it down to a known cause. If not, you may need to dig a little deeper into the issue.
Spotting the “Unsweet” Spot
The true source of pain in the cervical region is often hard to pinpoint. Of course, you’ll know exactly where the pain originates, but you may find it hard to spot the exact reasons for or circumstances under which the pain originated.
Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything that might have caused the pain. You may have what is popularly called Computer Neck Syndrome.
If that strikes a resonant chord with you, it’s probably our lifestyle that is the reason for your pain. Computer Neck Syndrome is a common affliction among office workers with limited options for physical exercise.
The constant staring and hunching for 8 or more hours a day can take its toll on the sturdiest of necks. Inappropriate sitting positions, awkward angles of vision and slouching or being too relaxed with respect to posture are some of the main reasons for this condition.
The options to deal with neck pain are many. Depending on which approach you are comfortable with, you can choose from a variety of therapy and home remedy options that are safe, convenient and will get you back in the pink of neck health in less time than it takes to say “One Cervical Collar, Please!”
Choose your Solution
Traumatic injuries are a different class of pain sources, and professional help is highly recommended in these cases because the neck and its anatomy is of such a delicate construction and design that improper handling can lead to permanent damage.
However, special conditions aside, you can treat most types of neck pain in the comfort of your home.
Stretching at regular intervals while at work can help reduce muscular stiffness and restricted circulation of blood. It also gives your mind a chance to rest for a minute, which is much more beneficial than most people realize.
Application of cold to the affected area helps relieve the pain and allows the healing process to start up.
Most types of pain are caused by some sort of inflammation in the neck region, so cooling the area can slow this process down for long enough for the body’s pain-fighting chemicals to rush in and do their job.
Some people are averse to medication of any kind, but certain over-the-counter pain relief drugs can be very helpful. Drugs like Aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, etc. are known to have pain-reducing effects.
However, be sure that these are only short-term solutions because prolonged usage of any drug can lead to dependency or other complications like adverse side effects.
The recommended approach is to only use such medication when the pain is more than a little uncomfortable and impedes normal activities like work or sleep.
Close the Gates to Neck Trouble
Assuming you have used one or more of the above techniques and have satisfactorily dealt with the problem, the next step is to close the stable doors. The horse is safely inside, but you don’t want him running loose again.
So, you need to have a plan to prevent neck pain from occurring in future. You have already done the research and you know how to get rid of the pain; now here’s how to keep the pain away for good.
Postural changes are the basis of achieving good musculoskeletal health. Most neck conditions arise from the fact that body posture is bad while doing activities that take up most of your time.
Posture training is a specialty of chiropractors, but physical therapists can also help you maintain the right posture. Finishing school matrons are also perfect teachers of posture, but that may not be an option for everyone!
Proper posture is intended to fight gravity – believe it or not. The absence of poor posture can validate this claim: for example, look at a slouchy teenager who slouches only because that’s the “easiest” or “least energy-expending” way to stand or sit.
This “giving in to gravity” mentality is a significant source of most body aches and pains. Though surrender to gravity may be an efficient way to conserve energy, it is also the shortest route to neck pain and other ailments down the road.
If you want to prevent health problems related to the spine, then proper posture is the only way to train yourself into a life of good health.