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Do You Suffer from Neck Pain?

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Neck Exercises

One common cause of neck pain is weakened muscles in the front of the neck and overactive, tight muscles in the back.  Stretching and strengthening these muscles  can help to reduce and prevent neck pain. Here are some exercises to try:

Begin by lying flat on your back. Tuck your chin to chest and raise your head no more than an inch off your bed or floor. For best results, hold this position until your muscles fatigue (they may even begin to shake a bit). Relax and lower your head to your starting position. Aim for three repetitions of this exercise, once or twice each day.

Sit or stand with your neck tall and erect.  Keeping your chin level, jut your head forward. Next, drop your chin to your neck. Now place your hands on the back of your head to gently encourage a stretch of the muscles at the back of the neck. Hold this position for several seconds. Try to repeat this stretch three to fives times, as often as once an hour, each day.

As you look straight ahead, tilt your head to one shoulder using your hand on that side to gently pull your head toward your shoulder. Hold the stretch for several seconds. Repeat this stretch on the other side. Try to repeat this stretch three to five times on each side, as often as once an hour, each day.

Are you one of the millions of Americans who suffer from neck pain?  If so, you certainly have a lot of company.  Almost 75 percent of American adults will suffer from neck pain at some time in their lives. This is not surprising when you consider our anatomy. Think of balancing a heavy bowling ball on top of set of building blocks. Our necks have the challenging job of supporting our heads and allowing full range of movement, which also makes them vulnerable to various injuries of the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles. Fortunately, there are things we can do to protect our necks and minimize the risk of injury. Practicing good posture each day, consistently stretching and strengthening our muscles, and regular chiropractic treatment can help keep us free of neck pain.

What Causes Neck Pain?

Neck pain can be anything from a mild annoyance to severe and incapacitating. Minor neck pain can be triggered by things like poor posture during various daily activities such as reading, watching television, working at a computer, or talking on the phone - especially if you cradle the handset between your ear and shoulder instead of holding it or setting it down and using the speaker function. Watching television can be especially bad for the neck if you tend to watch lying down, with your head at an awkward angle for an extended length of time.  Keeping your head angled downward while reading or while using a computer monitor which is lower than eye level can also be particularly stressful for the neck. By resting and making an effort to avoid repeating the neck stressing behaviors, minor neck pain will often disappear on its own within a day or two.

Neck pain that doesn't seem to go away or keeps coming back can indicate a more serious underlying problem. Subluxations or misallignments of the vertebrae in the neck; whiplash from a motor vehicle accident or other injury; diseases like inflammatory or degenerative arthritis, congenital malformation, meningitis, or tumors require more than rest. A knowledgeable healthcare professional such as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) can help. He or she can determine whether the cause of your neck pain stems from a minor problem and is treatable, or whether the underlying cause is more serious and requires considerably more extensive treatment. Your Millar Doctor of Chiropractic will perform a thorough assessment and may then recommend chiropractic adjustments, physiotherapy, natural supplements to reduce inflammation, massage therapy, and/or stretching and strengthening exercises. In some cases, they may refer you to an appropriate specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

Preventing Neck Pain

What can you do to avoid the need for treatment in the first place? Step one is to pay attention to your posture each day. If your job requires a lot of time spent on the telephone, consider wearing a headset, or if you work in a quiet space at home, perhaps a high quality speaker phone can be a good alternative. Notice if you tend lie down with your head at an uncomfortable angle or slouch while you're watching television. Instead, try sitting upright in a good supportive chair. When you read or study try using a book stand to hold your book in front of you.  There are many stand options for eReaders and tablets too, including covers that not only protect your device but also have a stand built-in which makes reading and watching videos more comfortable and hands-free.  The objective is to avoid having to spend extended periods of time with your head bent forward.  Similarly, if your computer monitor is lower than your eye level, try placing it on top of a stable tower or shelf for better ergonomics.

If you experience neck pain that lasts more than 24 hours, seek the advice of a trained healthcare specialist for the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. And remember, because chiropractors specialize in the neuromusculoskeletal system, they are some of the most well-trained healthcare professionals to consult about neck pain.

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