Neck pain is a common complaint, with more than 2/3 of the population reporting some kind of neck pain.
Jeremy Smith, M.D., an orthopaedic spinal surgeon and fellowship director at the Hoag Orthopaedic Institute, discusses some common lifestyle habits that may lead to intermittent or chronic neck pain.
Here are five common reasons you may want to think about.
If you find that you are regularly hunched over a pile of books or constantly leaning over your computer, your spinal alignment may be compromised. Smith states, “A neutral alignment is key.” Keeping your head, neck, spine, and pelvis aligned is critical for preventing neck pain. Practice the movement of pretending to squeeze a pencil between your shoulder blades and you will get a good idea of how good posture feels.
2. Unnatural workspace
Lots of people experience chronic neck pain, and constant computer use may be to blame. Smith states that office chairs are not typically properly supportive of the natural spinal curvature, resulting in poor lumbar support due to a “c-shaped” rather than an “s-shaped” spine, which puts added stress on the lumbar section of the spine.
If this sounds like your experience, Smith recommends that you consult your HR department to make your work area more ergonomic. Getting up to stretch regularly, at least every 30-40 minutes, which will help you to improve circulation and help to reset your spine to the proper position.
Smoking is correlated with so many chronic health problems, from lung cancer to diabetes, and chronic neck pain may be included in this group. Smith states, “Smoking dehydrates the disks in your back and your neck and accelerates the degenerative process.”
When your disks are dry, slipped or herniated disks can become more common. Smoking also leads to poor circulation, because the blood vessels harden and become constricted.
4. Too much time on the smartphone
When you are constantly texting, your thumbs are not the only body part placed at risk. When you are looking down at your device constantly, you are putting tremendous stress on your neck muscles.
Smith suggests that you should picture your head and neck as if they were a bowling ball balanced on a golf tee. Because your head weighs approximately 12 pounds, it can take a great deal of effort to achieve this balance. When you reduce your screen time, or focus on keeping your phone at eye level, you can reduce the strain on your neck muscles.
5. Too much alcohol
While sleeping in a bad position can cause neck pain, it can become more likely when you drink too much. Typically, people change their sleeping position many times during the night, but when you are intoxicated, you will probably shift around less and you are more likely to stay in one position, you can end up with neck pain that can persist for a while.
You don’t have to suffer endlessly with neck pain, try making some changes as described above and hopefully you will get some relief!