Are you struggling to turn your head while driving? Do you wake up in the morning with a stiff neck? Have a tense neck while on the computer or phone for a long time?
Symptoms of neck pain can be varied and unique. They sometimes show up as an aching muscle, spasms, and tension, or they can present as sharp-shooting discomfort and pain upon attempting to move the neck. Frequently, irritation in the neck is one-sided. Meaning you can turn your head to one side but may be completely immobile to the other. The neck is comprised of seven bones: connected and stabilized by ligaments, while stacked on top of each other. They are separated by discs which act as shock absorbers and create space. The facet joints are hinges located on both sides of the neck, allowing you tilt, rotate, and aid in an increased range of motion.
When your neck is forced to be in a bad position for a long period of time, (looking down at your phone, moving your head forward to decipher small text on your computer screen) the structures of the neck are not optimally aligned, and increased stress and forces are being applied to the described framework. In order to reduce this stress, one must learn to accept the mechanics of the body as it requires much more balance than you would think. In order to cope, you may turn to painkillers, stretches found on the internet, or succumb to ads describing special neck pillows, all with little to no result.
Neck muscles controlling the head are in the most optimal mechanical position when the middle back is also strong and lined up correctly. Those muscles originate control of the neck similar to the reins of a horse’s head. Therefore, increasing the stability of the foundation (the upper back) is crucial to help the neck become supported and fully mobile.
So, when you have neck pain, always think of the potential positions you have been in which jeopardize your neck, causing it to be displaced, strained, and stiff. Simple stretches may help, and often times a topical pain-relieving cream may help to ease the discomfort for the time being. A skillfully administered massage to the neck muscles is always well received by the body. Having a physical therapist assess the causes of your neck pain can provide long lasting results, and help you to live a fully functional, and mobile life.
If you are interested in a free screen, Results Physical Therapy will be hosting COVID-19-friendly physical therapy screens this Saturday, Nov. 7, from 9 to 11 a.m. with our new neighbors at F45 Coronado, 1000 C Avenue, Suite B. Hope to see you there!