The 7 bones of the cervical spine (neck) and the muscles that support it can be a source of discomfort that’s temporary and mild or persistent and severe. Most people actually experience the former rather than the latter. Even so, knowing what often causes neck pain may help you prevent unexpected aches and pains. Santa Monica spine surgeons discuss 5 of the top causes of neck pain.
1. Wrong Sleep Positions
Often resulting in a “crick” in the neck felt soon after you wake, neck pain related to sleeping positions is caused by added pressure on joints and muscles. Avoid stomach sleeping to maintain back-neck alignment and excessive tossing and turning as much as possible and opt for a comfortable, supportive mattress.
2. Poor Posture
Anything that keeps your head tilted or turned abnormally for sustained periods can be a possible cause of neck pain. An increasingly common phenomenon is called “tech neck,” referring to a tendency to glance down at various devices. Counter your posture issues by keeping things at eye level and taking breaks to do basic neck stretches like side-to-side head motions.
3. Sports Injuries
Being new to the game or sustaining a hard fall or hit are among the most common causes of sports-related neck injuries. Neck and shoulder pain caused by a sports injury is often the result of nerve pressure, also referred to as a “stinger,” due to the resulting weakness, tingling, and numbness. Pain may be felt in the shoulders or radiate to arms and hands.
Often associated with car accidents, whiplash simply refers to any sudden twist, jolt, or turn that causes neck pain. It’s important to pay attention to symptoms that may develop later because pain isn’t always immediately experienced with soft tissue injuries.
5. Repetitive Motions
Repeating the same motions can place strain on neck muscles. This is a common cause of neck pain for competitive swimmers, although it can also be work-related if you’re constantly turning to look at a computer screen positioned off to the side as you type.
Overuse and overextension often contribute to most instances of neck pain. If this is the case, a little rest and home care involving the application of heat or ice and over-the-counter painkillers often helps. For neck pain that stays around or gets worse rather than better, talk to a Santa Monica board-certified spine surgeon.
There are many possible treatments for the varying types of neck pain, often depending on the severity of the injury. Potential treatments include spinal surgery like cervical artificial disc replacement as well as non-surgical options. Get in touch with The Spine Institute Center today to find out the most effective course of treatment. Call 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.