6 Simple Tips for Preventing Neck Pain and Strain

Neck PainDid you know that most neck pain is caused by spinal problems? Neck pain is typically caused by injuries associated with the muscles, ligaments and tendons around the upper spine (cervical spine), as well as by cervical herniated discs and cervical stenosis.
The following tips will help you protect your neck from injury and pain:
1. Sleep on your back: This position allows the spine to rest comfortably and naturally and is the recommended way to sleep. However, if you prefer to sleep on your side or stomach, just be sure your pillow is only around 4 to 6 inches thick. Doing so will keep your head from being raised too high and will prevent your head and neck from turning unnaturally to the side.
2. Use a cervical pillow: Cervical, or orthopedic pillows, are contoured to support your head and neck. They have deeper depressions where the head lies and give extra support under the neck. Cervical pillows also keep your neck in alignment with your spine.
3. Strive for good posture: Not surprisingly, poor posture can cause neck pain because it strains the muscles and ligaments that support your neck. One particular type of posture to avoid is the “head-and-shoulders-forward-posture,” where the neck slants forward, putting the head in front of the shoulders. Try to catch yourself if you take this posture often – not only does it create neck strain, but it also places a strain on the entire spine.
4. Carry weight evenly: Many of us carry a heavy purse or brief case on a daily basis, which can stress one side of the body. This position causes the shoulders to become uneven and strains the muscles. Consider using a backpack that distributes weight evenly across your shoulders. However, if a backpack isn’t an option, try to lighten up instead. Carry only the essentials in your purse or briefcase, and consciously try to keep your shoulders level while you are carrying the bag.
5. Keep your computer screen at eye level: Staring down at a computer screen for eight hours a day can wreak havoc on your neck. Position your screen so that its center is directly in front of your gaze, as you look straight ahead. If you need to, use books to raise it to the correct height. In addition, take breaks from your computer by getting up and moving around every 30 minutes or so.
6. Use a phone headset: If your job requires you to talk on the phone a lot, invest in a hands-free device. Keeping your neck tilted to the side while you’re on the phone can cause a great deal of strain.
These simple tips can help you protect your neck from pain and stress. If you are experiencing ongoing neck pain, contact Dr. Sharma’s office for an exam.
Image courtesy of Rheumatology.org