We can't eliminate every pain in the neck from your life, but we know the physiological causes of neck pain and steps you can take to alleviate it. Neck pain is a common complaint among adults and may be caused by a variety of factors. This type of back pain might also be referred to as cervical pain – the proper term for the neck being the cervical spine.
Don't let neck pain keep you from enjoying the activities you love or distract you from everyday life. Find out what causes your neck pain and take steps to meet it head on.
Your neck pain may be caused by strained muscles, overuse or herniated discs (more commonly known as slipped discs, although this is a bit of a misnomer). Although violent injuries like whiplash are common causes of neck pain, even habits as simple as poor posture or grinding your teeth can cause strain.
Rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease and other conditions may also cause neck pain. More serious diseases like cancer or meningitis have been linked to neck pain, but it's much more likely that your neck pain is caused by far less serious conditions.
If you wake up with neck pain you should consider replacing old or worn-out pillows. A pillow must fill in the gap between your shoulder and neck and support your head in a way that allows your spine to rest in a natrual relaxed position. The obvious next step should be to take a closer look at the mattress you're sleeping on and whether it supports correct sleep posture. Too often people confuse firm with supportive. A bed that is too firm under the shoulders may be putting undue strain on your neck. Similarly, if you hunch over your phone texting all day, if you are particularly tall, or if you stoop to drive you should consider finding ways to change these bad habits and environments.
Our joints accumulate wear and tear as we grow older. It's possible that your neck pain is caused by the natural deterioration of the joints in your neck.
Older people are more likely to experience neck pain for the reasons specified above. As we age the cartilage between our vertebrae can deteriorate, as our bodies lose the ability to self-heal these areas of our joints. This condition is commonly known as osteoarthritis.
Anyone who might suffer violent neck injuries is clearly at risk for experiencing neck pain. High-contact sports, especially any that allow tackling or full contact, are more likely to injure neck muscles, ligaments and bones.
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
For moderate neck pain, your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant. Alternatively, your doctor might want you to try particular over-the-counter medications first. Although pain medications can help with the symptoms of immediate pain, you should identify underlying situations that exacerbate your neck pain and try to avoid them.
Physical therapy will help strengthen neck muscles and prevent the return of pain. Your physical therapist should give you some simple stretches and exercises that can be performed anytime throughout the day to help relieve neck tension in addition to the exercises you complete during your sessions.
Steroid injections or surgery
In extreme cases, your doctor might recommend surgery to resolve neck injuries causing pain, such as nerve or spinal cord compression. Steroid injections, similar to pain medications, can help relieve neck pain but are delivered right to the source of your pain rather than taken orally.
Although surgery, injections and physical therapy are common solutions for certain types of severe neck pain, it's much more likely that your neck pain is caused by habits or environmental factors. Take stock of your posture during the day and at night – are you sleeping in positions that push your neck out of alignment with the rest of your spine? Is your current bed unable to support your back and help you maintain a neutral spine position throughout the night?
The DUX® bed from Sweden is designed to help alleviate all types of back pain, including neck pain. Invest in a bed that will provide continuous, pressure-free support all night long. Consider upgrading to DUX pillows as well to fully support your neck so that your body can relax and get the rest it needs. Find relief from neck pain with a DUX bed and bedding that can help support spine health at all stages of your life.
If you experience sudden neck pain accompanied by loss of feeling or use in your hands or arms, seek immediate medical attention.