Neck pain can have a significant impact on your daily life. Neck pain can be attributed to anything, from bruising to more serious orthopedic conditions such as disc tears, degenerative disc disease, and more. Depending on the severity of the underlying condition causing your pain, it may last days, months, or even years. If you are struggling with chronic neck pain, a spinal specialist may be able to help.
At Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery, our doctors and surgeons have extensive experience addressing a wide variety of cervical spine issues. We prioritize innovative and minimally invasive treatments to ensure our patients can get back to their pain-free lives as quickly as possible. When you trust us with your care, you can have peace of mind that your health is in compassionate and experienced hands.
What Does My Neck Pain Mean?
It can be challenging to determine the true cause of neck pain without a complete medical evaluation. Causes can range from recent trauma to progressive spinal conditions depending on your history and health.
If you are also experiencing tingling or numbness in your extremities, it may indicate a more serious condition. Some conditions like cervical disc tears can put pressure on the nerves in your cervical spine, causing these associated symptoms.
If you are experiencing the symptoms above, it may be in your best interest to seek professional treatment for your neck pain. We have a quick and easy tool to help us gather some information from you to determine the cause of your pain and get you on the road to recovery.
What is the Right Treatment for Me?
Treatment options for neck pain can range from physical therapy and medication to surgeries such as cervical discectomy or fusion. More advanced treatments like cervical artificial disc replacement are also used for more serious conditions.
OLSS provides a wide range of treatment options and because our doctors are the most experienced and best trained in treating spinal conditions we are able to perform many advanced treatments other practices are unable to offer.
The real question is: What treatment is best to treat your neck pain? Use our Treatment Match tool to quickly get started in finding the right treatment for you.
Common Causes of Neck Pain
The first step in solving your neck pain is determining the cause. Unfortunately, there are a wide variety of activities that can put a strain on your neck. The more strain you put on your neck, the greater your pain may be. Furthermore, continuing to do the same activities day after day can lead to chronic neck pain. One or more of the following common culprits may be to blame for your neck pain.
Poor posture places additional strain on the nerves, ligaments, and muscles around your neck. Leaning your head and shoulders forward is a common poor posture position that can lead to neck pain. Additionally, slouching in your chair or leaning too far back may cause you to crane your neck forward to participate in conversations or see objects. Unfortunately, your pain may become chronic if you don’t take corrective action.
Driving in the Wrong Position
If you’re leaning too far back while driving or sitting too close to the steering wheel, you may have to twist and turn your neck at awkward angles to properly observe your surroundings. This improper posture can cause additional strain on your neck.
Traveling by Car, Bus, Plane or Train
Long hours of sitting while traveling can take a real toll on the body. Awkward sitting positions, falling asleep without support and shying away from less-than-familiar neighbors on public transportation can make for uncomfortable travels.
Awkward sitting positions, falling asleep without support, and shying away from less-than-familiar neighbors on public transportation can make for uncomfortable travels and neck strain.
Hunching over a laptop all day can lead to neck pain and severe tension headaches. Ensure your computer monitor is just below eye level to prevent neck strain.
“Text neck” is a thing for a reason. When you text or use a tablet, your head typically tips forward to see the screen. This motion causes the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your neck to strain to hold your head in position. Since this position is so common among heavy-duty texters, physicians are beginning to see a degeneration of the spine in patients who are much younger than expected.
While you may have a favorite sleeping position, it may not be a good match for your neck. In fact, if you sleep on your stomach, you probably twist your head to the side and place excessive strain on your neck. You may experience far less neck pain by shifting to be a side or back sleeper instead. Additionally, pillows that are too thick or thin can also pull your neck out of alignment and cause pain.
Carrying Heavy Handbags or Briefcases
Weighted-down purses and briefcases can spell trouble for your neck in multiple ways. Huffington Post suggests the following three consequences arise from carrying around heavy handbags:
- First, if you wear your bag over one shoulder, it can throw off your center of gravity and force you to overcorrect, placing undue strain on your neck.
- Second, you probably carry quite a bit of weight in your handbag. The more weight you’re carrying, the more your muscles strain to hold the load.
- Third, your bag can interfere with your natural gait. This means walking abnormally without swinging your arms and unconsciously using your neck to try to make adjustments to your stride on the go.
To avoid neck strain, try carrying a lighter bag or wearing a backpack.
Participating in Sports
It doesn’t matter which sport you’re participating in or whether you’re a weekend warrior or professional athlete. Playing sports presents the threat of injury and subsequent neck pain.
Stress is a common cause of neck pain often manifesting in the form of tension headaches. Additionally, most people tend to tense their shoulders when stressed, causing tightness in the neck muscles.
If your glasses prescription is not up-to-date, you may be leaning your head forward to see better. This can lead you to strain your neck, and subsequently cause you pain.
Tension headaches do not only affect your head. You can also feel them behind your eyes and in your neck. They are the most common types of headaches, with some people suffering from them two or three times a month. Approximately 3% of the U.S. population experiences chronic tension headaches, with episodes lasting 15 or more days per month.
Trauma is another cause of neck pain that is far too common. Whiplash is typically associated with car accidents where the head moves backward then forward with exceptional force. Neck pain from whiplash may be immediate or show up days, weeks, months, and even years after the accident.
Steps You Can Take to Address Your Neck Pain
You must root out the reason for your specific neck pain to find the best solution. Once you understand the potential causes of your pain, you can begin working to decrease the severity of your neck pain by making the appropriate changes, including the following:
Choose the Proper Pillow
The best pillow for your neck is one that offers support, such as a curved pillow. It may take trial and error to find your perfect fit, but you’ll enjoy more productive and less painful sleep for your efforts.
Ensure That Your Mattress Provides Adequate Support
The general rule of thumb for mattresses is they need to be replaced every seven to eight years. Even if you have a new mattress, it could be contributing to your neck pain if it doesn’t offer enough support to meet your needs.
Change Your Sleep Position
Stomach sleepers often experience more neck pain than back or side sleepers. This means it might be a good idea to change your position while sleeping to relieve the pressure on the nerves in your neck. Additionally, if you’re a back or side sleeper who has invested in new pillows and mattresses yet still experiences neck pain, a new sleep position may provide further relief.
Improve Your Posture
While there are many things you can do to improve your posture, the most important thing you can do is puff out your chest any time you notice you happen to be hunched. This can happen at a desk, in a chair, or when you’re standing in line at the supermarket. Puff out your chest to relieve the strain on your neck and see what a difference it makes when you look in the mirror.
Invest in Chairs Offering Neck Support
If you spend a lot of time during the day in one chair, such as an office chair, it is worth the effort to invest in one that provides adequate neck support. This will reduce neck pain while also supporting excellent posture. It also relieves the strain on the spine, which contributes significantly to neck strain.
Make Ergonomic Adjustments
Adjust the position of your body when sending text messages, operating a computer, or sitting at your desk at work. The following are three ergonomic adjustments you might want to consider making for the sake of your neck pain:
- Move your computer monitor so it is at eye level and you don’t have to look down to see it properly
- Invest in a hands-free headset for your mobile phone for texting and talking without neck strain.
- Prop your tablet on a pillow, letting it rest at 45 degrees rather than having it flat on your lap.
These adjustments can have a significant impact on your neck pain. If your pain persists, consider seeking professional medical help.
Update Your Glasses or Contact Lens Prescription
Outdated eyeglasses prescriptions often result in leaning forward to read and add strain on your neck. If you’re experiencing neck pain, it may be worth your while to check with your optometrist or ophthalmologist to ensure your prescription meets your current vision correction needs.
Adjust Your Driving Position
Many people are surprised to discover that how they sit in the car can play a crucial role in neck pain and comfort. For instance, placing your headrest at the center of your head can help prevent the back and forth whipping motion that hurts so much after sudden stops. Also, sitting in a more upright position can relieve the pressure on your lower back while adequately supporting your head and helping to relieve neck pain.
Support Your Neck While Traveling
Something as simple as using a horseshoe-shaped travel pillow can help to prevent much of the neck strain you experience while on the go. The good news is that they travel well and are convenient to use when traveling by car, bus, train, or plane.
Carry Weight Evenly
Whether you’re carrying a heavy handbag on one shoulder or multiple packages and parcels, even distribution of weight can have an enormous impact on your neck and your pain level. Some options to consider for evening the weight include the following:
- Carrying packages in both hands
- Using a backpack to carry items so weight is distributed on both shoulders
- Using a cross-body bag instead of a bag that places all the weight on one shoulder
If your pain persists after making these adjustments contact the spine specialists at OLSS.
Exercise to Relieve Neck Pain
Exercises like the turtle exercise, which strengthen the core and improve posture, are ideal for relieving neck pain. You might also consider strengthening and stretching exercises to help you develop your neck muscles without adding bulk. Pilates and yoga offer gentle exercises to help you stretch your neck while strengthening your core, which make them great choices for people suffering from chronic neck pain.
Whether you realize it or not, adequate hydration is essential for maintaining disc height and spinal alignment, which can take pressure off the spine, relieving the pain in your neck. The simple solution is to drink more water if you suspect dehydration may be a contributing factor for your neck pain.
The real key to finding lasting neck pain relief is to limit any activities that may aggravate or create neck pain. Doing this will help you enjoy better sleep and better quality of life.
What Is the Right Treatment For Me?
Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery provides a wide range of treatment options. Since our doctors are some of the most experienced and best trained in treating spinal conditions, we are able to perform many advanced treatments other practices are unable to offer.
Treatment options for neck pain can range from physical therapy and medication to surgeries, such as cervical discectomy or fusion. More advanced treatments, like cervical artificial disc replacement, are also options for more severe conditions.
What treatment is best to treat your neck pain? Use our Treatment Match tool to quickly get started in finding the right treatment for you.
Reach Out to Talented Orthopedic Spine Specialists Near You
If you believe you are experiencing chronic pain, reach out for the proper medical treatment today. Here at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery, we have a talented and experienced group of doctors who know how to help relieve your pain.
Begin your treatment now by scheduling an appointment with us today. Check our location site to see what areas we serve in Florida. You can reach us by calling (855) 853-6542 or completing our online contact form.