Neck pain can be an acute or chronic condition involving tightness and tenderness along the neck area. These usually result from physical conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system along the neck. Various conditions involving the neck such as cervical osteoarthritis, cervical muscle strain and cervical spine affectation may lead to chronic neck pains.
All these neck problems usually arise from poor posture, which increases the workload of the neck in supporting the head. One of the reasons may include a forward head posture from prolonged working in front of a monitor.
Neck pains can be debilitating because it may involve cervical stiffness, which significantly limit the range of motion of the neck joint. Also, neck pains can affect the activities of daily living of the person when neck pains are not managed promptly.
Due to the significant affectation of the mobility of the neck joint, dealing with neck pains is very important to promote optimum level of functioning. In this line, various managements and preventive measures should be employed to effectively deal with neck pain. In this line, the following are the most effective means of reducing discomforts along the neck to promote mobility of the neck joint. These may include orthopedic managements, supportive managements, self-care at home and alternative and complementary medicine:
• Use of muscle relaxants
Since neck pains commonly arise from tightness of muscles around the area, muscle relaxants are commonly administered instead of using over-the-counter analgesics. Muscle relaxants effectively reduce muscle tightness.
• Short term immobilization
Soft collars are also commonly placed for a short period of time. Soft collars help support the head so pressure is minimized to the soft structures in the neck area. Soft collars are usually used no more than two weeks to aid the neck in employing range of motion activities.
• Use of traction
For neck pains caused by nerve root irritation, appropriate orthopedic care is needed such as the use of traction. Traction helps in reducing the pressure in between the cervical vertebrae to relieve nerve root irritation and pain.
• Chiropractic care
Since most neck pains result from injury to the soft structures around the neck and within the vertebrae, chiropractic care helps in relieving spinal subluxations to reduce nerve root compression and strain to other soft structures. A chiropractor usually employs spinal manipulations that are generally safe.
Acupuncture can also help relieve neck pain by releasing tension along the pressure points in the neck.
You can also seek massage along the neck muscles to help relax the area. However, make sure that the massage is only light as deep massages on the neck may also compress vital structures such as the nerves and major blood vessels.
• Neck exercises
Neck pains may also arise from neck muscle tightness and poor flexibility. Neck exercises such as stretching helps increase the flexibility of the neck muscles and reduce pain from stiffness.
• Use of hot and cold compress
During periods of acute injury to the neck such as sudden development of stiff neck, cold compress within 48 hours will help reduce inflammation. After which, hot compress may be placed at the back of the neck to promote muscle relaxation. Hot compress for neck stiffness has proven to be effective in providing immediate relief.
Rest is both a management and preventive measure for neck pains. After working for prolonged period in front of the monitor, take time to lie down or move around your desk top reduce the forward head posture and pressure on the neck area.
• Adjust your desk
Since neck pains usually arise from poor posture while sitting, adjusting your desk and monitor to appropriate height may help reduce the occurrence of neck pains.
The key to dealing with neck pains effectively is employing preventive measures to prevent the development of which. Proper posture, ergonomics and body mechanics all prove to be effective in reducing neck pains.