Holding you head high: Understanding neck pain and how it can be avoided

Neck pain or a stiff neck is a common problem which maybe due to an awkward position while sleeping or use of computer keyboard for a long period of time, slouching, painting a ceiling, hunched over a steering wheel for long hours, reading in bed etc. It could also be due to an injury like a fall from a ladder or whiplash from a motor vehicle accident or medical problems like an infection in the neck, narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck (cervical spine stenosis),arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis). Sometimes tension in the neck muscles that may lead to neck pain may be due to anxiety and stress that usually gets better after a few days and there is nothing to worry about.If the pain becomes chronic one may have trouble coping with daily life that could also lead to fatigue, depression, and anxiety.         

The general advice for neck pain is usually to take painkillers to relieve the symptoms, carry on with your normal daily activities, and to keep oneself active.

Some simple tips to adapt in day - to - day life to avoid neck pain …

  • Avoid slouching or a head-forward posture
  • Sit straight with lower back supported, feet flat on the floor, and shoulders relaxed while sitting on the chair
  • No to sit for long periods without getting up or changing positions and to take short breaks several times an hour to stretch the neck muscles
  • Adjust the monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level while working on the computer
  • Not to cradle the phone on the shoulder, and to use a headset or speaker phone if using the telephone a lot
  • Adjust the car seat to a more upright position to support the head and lower back and make sure not to reach for the steering wheel while driving and the arms are to be slightly flexed in a comfortable position.
  • Use proper lifting techniques 
  • While sleeping to use a pillow that keeps the neck straight and not to sleep on the stomach with the neck twisted or bent
  • While reading in bed, prop up the book so as to not to use arms to hold it up and bend the neck forward
  • If stress is adding to the neck pain to consider practicing relaxation exercises
  • To do neck exercises once a day to strengthen and protect the neck and also stay at a healthy body weight