Your neck is made up of seven small vertebral bones, along with muscles, tendons, and ligaments that give it mobility and strength. Damage, stress, or degeneration in any of these tissues can lead to neck pain. The nerves in your neck are also subject to compression or irritation.
At Interventional Spine and Pain Institute in Vero Beach, Florida, Dr. Michael Esposito and his experienced team are available to alleviate neck pain when it’s significant enough to limit daily activity and hinder your quality of life.
Neck pain is the fourth leading cause of disability in the United States. Knowing how to prevent neck pain in the first place means you don’t have to take medications, endure corticosteroid injections, or use other methods of pain management.
Here are three risk factors that make you more vulnerable to neck pain and how you can avoid it.
1. Poor posture
Are you slouched over a laptop, a tablet, or your phone while reading this? This posture puts you at increased risk of developing neck pain. When you bend your head to look forward at a 45- to 60-degree angle regularly to watch videos, answer texts, or read emails, you’re putting a lot of extra pressure on your neck.
Your neck isn’t designed to sustain this amount of pressure for long periods. Tech neck becomes reality when you slouch over devices for work, entertainment, or socializing.
If you’re regularly in front of a computer or phone, sit up straight and bring the device up to eye level. Invest in ergonomic work equipment that fosters good posture to keep your neck healthy long-term.
2. Minor car accidents
You might not think twice about a minor fender bender during which no noticeable bodily injury occurred. But even seemingly mild collisions can result in serious damage to the soft tissue of the neck that can cause pain days, weeks, or even months later.
Whiplash describes when your neck is thrust forward and backward suddenly — common when you’re in a collision of any sort. Symptoms don’t always show up right away. The rush of the accident may mask your pain, or sometimes it takes time for the inflammation to set in.
Whiplash can cause long-term neck pain and dysfunction as well as chronic headaches. If you’re in any type of automobile accident, get checked out by a doctor. Early treatment for whiplash means you avoid future, persistent neck pain.
3. Stressful living
Stress is inevitable, which is why it’s important to learn to manage it. Without stress-relieving strategies, your neck and shoulder absorb a lot of tension, causing the muscles there to spasm and freeze.
Tense muscles can also pull your cervical spine out of alignment. This can lead to a pinched nerve or a ruptured cervical disc.
Prioritize self-care and stress reduction strategies like deep breathing, massage, and yoga. Learn to delegate or seek help when you’re overwhelmed.
Take frequent breaks, learn calming techniques such as meditation and deep breathing, and gently stretch and strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles with exercise.
What to do if you already have neck pain
If you’re suffering from neck pain, don’t ignore it. It could be a sign of cervical radiculopathy, arthritis, spinal stenosis, or a pinched nerve. If you’ve already had surgery on your neck, it could be scar tissue causing pain or an adjacent level of the spine acting up. Consult with Dr. Esposito at Interventional Spine and Pain Institute to find out the cause of your pain and get a customized treatment plan.
Treatments may include injections, physical therapy, movement modification, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), or spinal cord stimulation. If your neck pain is severe or doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments, surgery may be required.
Call Interventional Spine and Pain Institute today or use this website to request an appointment to find out more how to prevent neck pain and what Dr. Esposito can do to relieve it.