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How To Relieve Stiff Neck And Upper Back Pain

What Are The Structures Of The Neck

Upper Neck Pain or Back Pain? Simple stretches for instant relief [UPDATED VIDEO]

There are seven vertebrae that are the bony building blocks of the spine in the neck that surround the spinal cord and canal. Between these vertebrae are discs, and nearby pass the nerves of the neck. Within the neck, structures include the skin, neck muscles, arteries, veins, lymph nodes, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, esophagus, larynx, and trachea. Diseases or conditions that affect any of these tissues of the neck can lead to neck pain.

What Causes Neck Or Shoulder Pain

The main cause of neck or shoulder pain is poor posture. You can loosen a stiff neck, frozen shoulders, and upper backache, even headaches and migraines by being well aware of your posture. There is no such thing as a short neck. We all possess seven cervical vertebrae. A short neck is merely curved too deeply. The neck supports the head, so it is obvious that if the head is carried too far in front of the body instead of directly above the spine, where it belongs, the muscles at the back of the neck are doing unnecessary overtime. Permanently tense and raised shoulders, poor sleeping habits, stress, or cold drafts also contribute to neck and shoulder pain. The overload in muscle tension just to hold your head up, but in the wrong way, can eventually escalate into chronic headaches and migraines. Oh dear, what to do, what to do?

First, let us look at the shoulder area to create a strong base needed to help the neck support the head.

Can Neck Pain Be Prevented

The best way to prevent neck pain is to keep your spine flexible and your muscles strong. You can do this with regular exercise 30 minutes on most days. Make sure you take plenty of breaks throughout the day to stretch.

Its important to develop good posture especially when youre sitting, at work or driving. Try not to slouch or to poke your chin out. A supportive pillow is also important to prevent neck pain.

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Dr K Daniel Riew On Technology

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You see it everywhere. In homes and offices, while walking down the street, riding the bus, or standing in line. Tech neck, the act of stressing muscles while using phones, tablets, and computers, resulting in neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, and soreness, is a problem thats getting worse.

Last year, Americans spent a daily average of 5 hours and 53 minutes with digital media, including 3 hours, 17 minutes a day on non-voice activities on mobile devices a jump of more than an hour since 2013, according to eMarketer.

The result? Headaches, neck spasms, and creaky shoulder joints, caused by holding ones neck still for long periods, says K. Daniel Riew, M.D., director of cervical spine surgery and co-director of spine surgery in the department of orthopedic surgery at the NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital. Here, Dr. Riew breaks down the causes and symptoms of tech neck and offers ways to correctly and safely align the body while using mobile phones, computers, and other digital media devices.

So how should you sit? A better way to sit is with the chair reclining 25-30 degrees with a good lumbar support to prevent slouching. In this position, the discs in the back, as well as the neck, are subjected to much lower forces than in an upright position, and the muscles in the back of the neck no longer have to contract to hold your head up.

Dr. K. Daniel Riew

Best Sleeping Positions For Back Pain

15 Stretches to Relieve Neck and Shoulder Pain

The best sleeping position for lower back pain is widely considered to be on your back. This position distributes the weight along the entire spine. Placing a pillow under your knees will help to maintain the natural curve of the spine.

For those who sleep on their side, placing a firm pillow between the knees helps to maintain the natural alignment of the hips, pelvis and spine. However, if you are a side sleeper, try to alternate sides. This will help to avoid muscle imbalance and perhaps even scoliosis. In addition, side sleeping in a curled-up fetal position may help those with herniated disc pain.

Lying on your stomach is considered the worst sleeping position for back pain. However, if it is difficult to change sleeping positions, place a thin pillow underneath your hips and stomach to improve the alignment of the spine.

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Most Common Causes Of Chronic Neck Pain

The most common causes of chronic neck pain are muscle strain and nerve compression. Depending on the symptoms youre experiencing, it can be difficult to tell which of these is occurring. Most muscle strain comes from activities that place a lot of uneven strain on one side of your neck. Repetitive lifting is a common cause of muscle strain around the neck, especially if the loads are heavy or if youre using one side of your body to tote heavy loads, like carrying a heavy bag over one shoulder. Sleeping in a weird position or having a pillow that doesnt provide adequate support can also cause muscle strain in your neck.

Nerve compression occurs when one of the nerves around the neck gets pinched or pressed as it leaves your upper spine . When the nerves exit the cervical spine, they travel through your shoulders and down into your arms and hands. If a disc in your cervical spine slips out of place or if the tissues in your neck get swollen and inflamed, the nerves in that area can get squeezed. And that means you can have pain and other symptoms in your neck and anywhere along the path of that nerve.

Why Chronic Neck Pain Should Never Be Ignored

Neck pain is one of the most common medical complaints among both women and men, and thanks to an increasing use of computers and mobile phones for just about any activity under the sun, those complaints are becoming more common. Lots of factors can contribute to neck pain, including spending hours hunched over electronics.

Sometimes, neck pain is a minor nuisance that can be remedied with a few lifestyle changes and maybe some gentle stretching. But other times, chronic neck pain can be a sign of a more serious issue thats just not going to clear up on its own. Unless youre a doctor, it can be difficult to tell when persistent neck pain is due to minor strain and when its being caused by a serious underlying problem that needs immediate care. Heres why chronic neck pain shouldnt be ignored and how the chiropractors at Premier Spine Institute can help you find welcome relief.

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Unique Risks Of Smartphones And Tablets To Stress The Neck

Here are some reasons why smartphone and tablet use may pose some unique risks to stress the spine:

  • Severe neck angle to view the screen. Compared to TVs and personal computers, smartphone and tablet screens are more commonly viewed while flat on a table or lap, which means the screen angle is more severe. As such, the neck and head are typically bent further forward to view smartphones than other screens.
  • Touchscreen element may bring shoulders and head further forward. Research in the journal Ergonomics found that study participants had more forward head posture while texting compared to other smartphone tasks, such as web browsing or watching a video.2 One possible reason may be that texting is more likely to involve the use of both hands as well as more time with the fingers touching the screen, which is more likely to require the shoulders to round forward even further.

    See 3 Ways to Improve Forward Head Posture

Some other activities, such as reading a printed book or washing dishes, also prompt people to tilt their heads, but the difference may be that people use smartphones and tablets for a much longer time and are less likely to shift positions.

Uncommon Causes Of Stiff Neck

How to Relieve Upper Back and Neck Pain

Sometimes neck stiffness is a reaction to an underlying disorder of the cervical spine, which helps support and move the neck in addition to protecting the spinal cord. Several examples of cervical spine disorders that can cause neck muscles to painfully spasm or tighten include:

Sometimes neck stiffness is a reaction to an underlying disorder of the cervical spine.Several examples are illustrated in above.

  • Cervical herniated disc. The protective outer portion of a disc in the cervical spine breaks down, and the inner portion leaks out, causing compression and inflammation in nearby tissues.
  • Cervical degenerative disc disease. As discs lose hydration and height over time, pressure increases on nearby joints, nerves, and soft tissues, such as ligaments and muscles. This process can result in neck pain and stiffness.
  • Cervical osteoarthritis. Arthritic breakdown of the cervical facet joints between vertebral bones often occurs along with other degenerative conditions, such as spinal stenosis, and anatomical changes, such as bone spurs.

This is not a complete list of conditions that can cause a stiff neck. While rare, several other possibilities exist, such as an infection or tumor.

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Be Mindful Of Your Sleep Positions

Dr. Bang says if your neck is bothering you, you should pay attention to your sleep positions. Sleep only on your side or on your back never on your stomach, he says.

When you sleep on your stomach, often you will end up twisting your head one way or the other for hours at a time, Dr. Bang says. Sleeping on your stomach also can affect your low back because your belly sinks into the bed if you dont have enough support.

Treating Neck And Shoulder Pain

Treatment of neck and shoulder pain depends on the underlying cause.

Heart attack, stroke, and other serious conditions often include emergency treatment. For most other situations, home remedies, physical therapy, and massage will bring improvement.

Some of the more serious situations that may require surgical treatment include:

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Sleeping Positions For Back And Neck Pain

Getting a good nights sleep can be tough with back or neck pain. Its avicious cycle. You need sleep to heal, but your back hurts so you cant sleep,so you cant heal, so your back still hurts and you cant sleep.

The non-restorative sleep that is typical when youre in pain preventsthe relaxation of your muscles and impedes the healing that normally occursduring sleep. During restful sleep, the heart and blood pressure slow, thebrain is able to release the hormones that stimulate tissue growth and repairblood vessels, the body makes more white blood cells and the immune system isboosted.

If sleeping well is that important to healing back pain and neck pain, how do you do it? Heres how to sleep when your back hurts.

Stretches That Will Relieve Neck Pain And Tension

15 Stretches to Relieve a Stiff Neck, Tight Shoulders, and ...

Stiff neck? The area above your shoulders is one that commonly holds tension, especially if you’re sitting at a desk all day or constantly staring down at your phone screen.

According to research, neck pain may feel like a “kink,” stiffness or severe pain. This pain may spread to the shoulders, upper back or arms, or it may trigger headaches and cause numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms.

In general, neck pain refers to pain anywhere from the area at the base of the skull into the shoulders. And technology is one of the major culprits. As a culture we put our necks through hell with our reliance on technology, which creates forward head carriage, and results in neck muscles that go into spasm and refer pain into our heads, temples, and even behind our eyes, says Brad Butler, chiropractor and author of The Blueprint for Back Pain Relief: The Essential Guide to Nonsurgical Solutions.

“The most common causes of neck pain are either postural or positional. The modern-day life style of sitting at a desk looking over a computer for multiple hours unfortunately leads to a forward head position where the skull moves forward of its placement on the first cervical vertebra,” says Lara Heimann, physical therapist and creator of LYT Style Yoga. “Every millimeter that the skull is off-center places a strain on the posterior neck muscles. These muscles on the back of the neck have a chronic stress and load on them that creates tension and pain.

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What Causes Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain is usually caused by soft tissue injuries, such as sprains or strains, or muscle tension caused by poor posture or looking downward for long periods.

Poor posture and text neck can combine to wreck your upper back. Common behaviors and activities that can cause upper back pain include:

  • Poor posture

Dont let that long list of potential, serious conditions alarm you too much. In younger patients and when I say young, I mean people up to their mid-60s its most commonly a strain, Dr. Knight says.

When Should I See My Doctor

You should see a doctor if:

  • the pain is getting worse
  • the pain doesnt ease up in a week or so
  • you have numbness, tingling or pins and needles in your arms or legs
  • you start having difficulties with your bladder or bowel
  • you have a fever as well as neck pain

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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider

See your healthcare provider if you have:

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control with weakness in either leg. These symptoms need attention right away.
  • Severe back or neck pain that does not decrease with medicine and rest
  • Pain after an injury or a fall
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in your legs or arms
  • Fever of 100.4°F or higher, or as advised by your healthcare provider
  • Unintentional weight loss

Posture And Sleeping Position

1 of 2 | Stretches for STIFF neck, upper back, & shoulder – relieve pain and tension, relax

Holding your neck in an awkward position for a prolonged time can lead to strains in the muscles and tendons of your neck and shoulders.

Some of the postures and activities that commonly contribute to neck and shoulder pain are:

  • sleeping on too high a pillow or a stack of pillows
  • grinding or clenching your teeth at night
  • sitting at a computer or over a phone with your neck strained forward or tilted up
  • suddenly jerking your neck during exercise

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The Universal Guide To Upper Back Pain: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Straight From The Experts

In This Article: | | | | | | | |

Upper back pain can be a little like salsa or Buffalo wingswe know, bear with us.

  • First, theres mild: Just a twinge of the tastebuds if were talking sauce, and slight pain thats easy to ignore when it comes to the upper back.
  • Then theres medium/moderate: Now were getting somewhere. Youre gonna feel it, but usually only if you take a deep breath or sneeze or move too quickly.
  • Finally, weve got spicy: the equivalent to pain so intense you feel the burn from doing the simplest daily tasks, or even nothing at all!

Upper back pain is usually caused by soft tissue injuries, such as sprains or strains, muscle tension caused by poor posture, or looking downward for long time periods. Photo Source:123RF.com. Thing is, upper back pain affects everyone differently. Partly thats because there are so many possible reasons for your upper back pain. The first step in solving your upper back pain problem is understanding why its happening. To do that, start with learning your anatomy.

Bonus Tip: Do This With Your Posture

One rather common reason individuals find themselves dealing with a tight upper neck is due to their daily posture. While ideal posture is indeed quite arbitrary, there are some general postural habits that tend to wreak havoc on the upper neck.

Arguably, the most common lousy postural habit is the one where we leave our head draping forward with our chin poking outwards and upwards. Take a look at anyone sitting down at a chair and youll see just how common this can be.

The result of this postural habit is known as upper-crossed syndrome, and it can cause some significant tightness at your C0/1 joint and your suboccipital muscles. No bueno. Learning how to avoid this position while sitting down can be extremely beneficial for the health of your neck .

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What Are Possible Complications Of Neck And Back Pain

Complications of back and neck pain may include:

  • Loss of productivity. Back pain is the most common reason for disability in working adults.
  • Nerve damage. If your back pain is from a herniated disk, pressure on the spinal nerves may cause a variety of problems, such as weakness, numbness, or severe shooting pain that travels from the back to the leg.
  • Depression. Back or neck pain can disrupt all aspects of life. This includes work, physical exercise, social activities, and sleep. The anxiety and stress caused by the change in movement and pain can lead to depression.
  • Weight gain. Loss of movement and inability to exercise can lead to weight gain and the loss of muscle strength.

It is a good idea to see a healthcare provider if you have numbness or tingling, or if your pain is severe and does not get better with medicine and rest. If you have trouble urinating, weakness, pain, or numbness in your legs, fever, or unintentional weight loss, call your healthcare provider right away.

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