Common Causes for Neck Aches
Sometimes described as a “crick” in the neck, aches that affect that slender column that bridges the torso and the head can be, well, a pain in the neck. That sharp, jabbing pain can affect how we carry ourselves throughout the day and can impair our ability to obtain restful sleep at night.
Composed of seven bony parts, the neck’s purpose is to support the weight of the head and allow it to rotate. Within this short appendage, the top of the spinal column meets the base of the skull, with a myriad of nerves, muscles and blood vessels clustered as well.
While it may seem to be merely a pedestal upon which the face and head are displayed, the neck is actually a hard working instrument of the human body with many responsibilities. As such, it is subject to a number of injuries and painful conditions from a variety of causes. While the majority of complaints are not of a serious nature, there are certain situations in which a pain in the neck can signify that medical attention is necessary.
There are a number of things that we do in our normal daily routine that can create neck aches. They include:
- Computer usage. Millions of people sit before computer screens throughout the majority of their day. Some people position themselves with their fingers on the keyboard and a telephone resting upon their shoulder as they tilt their head sideways to hold it in place as they talk. Day in and day out, these individuals find themselves posed in this manner, placing their neck in unnatural positions which in time tire the muscles and cause painful sensations.
Gaming. Video games played on the television set at home are becoming increasingly popular among young and old. Sitting on the couch, hunched over with arms resting on the knees as both hands manipulate the controller and the eyes are riveted on the television screen, these people find that they experience problems with stiff and sore necks for hours after the game has ended.
- Stress. The demands of everyday life often result in stress related conditions, and soreness in the neck in one of those. Muscle tension is a common symptom of stress and when experienced continually can become a chronic complaint.
Medical causes of neck pain
- Injury. Whiplash is an injury that is common after a motor vehicle collision. It occurs when the head is swiftly moved forward and back; pulling the muscles beyond their normal ability. The pain can remain for a few hours, several weeks or in some cases develop into a long term condition.
- Disease. There are several medical conditions which exhibit neck aches as symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect any of the joints, but the neck is one of the most commonly affected by the disease. Meningitis is an infectious disease that affects the lining of the brain and the spinal cord. The swelling of these areas will neck pain and stiffness.
While these are the most common reasons that neck pain occurs, there are other causes for the discomfort, as well. When stiffness and pain occur suddenly with no apparent reason, it is important to seek immediate medical attention to rule out disease.
The type of treatment used for a painful neck will depend on its cause. Most pain can be successfully treated at home simply by resting the muscles and avoiding the activities that caused it. Stress induced pain responds well to relaxation techniques and soothing massage. Exercises that gently stretch the muscles such as yoga can restore muscle function and ease pain. In cases of extreme or chronic pain, your doctor may prescribe pain medications.
Neck aches have many causes; many of which are preventable. Taking care to properly maintain your posture during all activities will help to avoid a condition that can literally be a pain in the neck.