Comments like, “Well, doesn’t so-and-so have a really big head,” are generally understood to be disparaging remarks. However, if we can be totally honest here, all of us do have really big heads, at least in terms of weight.
Our heads usually tip the scales at around 10-12 pounds. At that weight it would make a good bowling ball if it weren’t for its odd shape and pesky protrusions, like the nose and ears.
Further, there’s an extremely complicated system of bones and muscles that, well, help us keep our heads on straight. However, they can be easily stressed for a variety of reasons and this leads to neck pain. It’s no wonder that we so often hear people say things like, “That Joe! He’s a real pain in the neck.” Neck pain is a common occurrence. Virtually all of us can relate to it.
There are some things we can do to remedy our neck pain as well as reduce or decrease future flareups. However, note that there can be medical problems like degenerative discs where you’ll need to work with a specialist physician.
Often those who suffer from neck pain make the connection between their physical discomfort and stress. The stress can be either physical or emotional. Generally when the source of the stress is removed, the neck pain will dissipate.
Let’s start with physical stress. With so many of us working at keyboards and computer screens today, repetitive motions can cause these stresses as can positions held for a long time, like staring at a glowing CRT. If you find that your neck pain corresponds to these kinds of conditions, find a way to change things up.
You need to get into as ergonomically correct positioning as possible. You may need a higher or lower desk, a better chair, or a way to properly elevate your monitor so your head is properly balanced on your neck and shoulders. Take breaks to stretch and move around.
Poor or uncomfortable lighting, like fluorescent lights, might also be causing you to strain your neck. Strong natural light is far better.
Think about your routines at home in the same way. Make sure you don’t plop down on the couch and watch television all night from a position that puts stress on your neck. Again, take breaks. Move to a different chair. Stretch.
Having your head at a bad angle can cause the muscles in your neck to tense up. So can emotional situations. Unfortunately, you can’t fix stressful emotional situations by changing your chair. However, understanding your stress and resolving to deal with it is an important first step.
Yoga and other forms of exercise often help relieve stress. Of course, if there are actions you can take in your life to lessen or remove the stress, put these at the top of your “to do” list.
Obesity and Diet
Being overweight throws body balance out of whack. Back pain is very common among obese individuals and this can lead to neck pain as well. Further, the unhealthy diets that cause obesity do not promote healing so recovering back from neck pain takes longer.
Adopt a healthy diet to lose the weight and return to better health in general.
Treatments and Remedies
Chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists and herbal remedies can play a role in overcoming neck pain.
Chiropractors will not “heal” neck pain. The goal of their treatment routine is to restore the proper position of your neck bones to relieve the pressure on your neck tissues and nerves. Then your body is able to heal itself.
Both massage therapy and acupuncture have been shown to relieve neck pain. One study comparing both treatments found that acupuncture seemed to produce results more quickly. However, massage did work for some patients as well, so if you don’t like needles, you can go this route.
Herbal anti-inflammatories include Devil’s Claw, St. John’s Wort and Kudzu. Some neck and back pain suffers have used these for relief. However, check with professionals to make sure you’re a good candidate for these herbs and that there won’t be problematic interactions with any other medications.
Balms of menthol and camphor can also provide relief. Rubbed into the neck, increased blood flow occurs and this can promote healing and muscle relaxation.
Chris Turberville-Tully is a marketing strategist for Physio Answers, chartered physiotherapists in London, England. Physio Answers offers treatment services for neck pain, sports injuries, back pain, arthritis, whiplash, headaches and post surgery care. Learn more about physiotherapists on their website.