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Neck and back pain is a common problem, especially for active adults. Even office workers who spend the whole day on the computer suffer from neck and back pain from time to time. Below, we look at the common causes of such pain and what you can do about it.
First though, it’s important to understand just how much we strain the neck on any given day. Think about how much you move your neck from one side to another, how often you strain the neck to get a clearer view, and how much load you sometimes place on the neck by carrying heavy items on your head. The head itself weighs 14-16 pounds. Considering that the neck has the least amount of muscles in the body, even without carrying an extra load, you can see the kind of work your neck does each day. What’s more, the neck has to perfectly balance your head at all times. It’s a big ask!
That’s why it’s common for the neck to get painful. Often, this pain spreads via the spinal cord to other parts of the body, particularly the upper back. It means that sometimes when you’re having upper back pains, it could actually be a problem in your neck. A strained neck can cause muscle spasm, restricted range of motion, and chronic tightness in the shoulders and the upper back.
For this reason, at Florida Spine, we often treat the two together. If you’re having neck pains, we’ll also look at your lower back, and vice versa.
Causes of neck and back pains
With regards to where the pains actually come from, we have identified five factors you need to pay particular attention to;
By far, the most common injury to the neck and lower back is whiplash. Whiplash injuries are caused by a sudden movement in the head that affects supporting muscles, ligaments, and other supportive tissues in the neck and lower back. They are common in car accidents, sports, or other accidents at home or at work.
It’s easy to get into bad posture without even realizing it. When you’re hunched over your computer at work, you might actually be putting strain on your neck. When reading in bed, you may also find yourself bending the neck awkwardly. To avoid neck pains, always try to keep the head balanced and never stay in one position for too long.
Derived from two words sub = “less than” and luxation = “dislocation”, subluxation means partial misalignment in the vertebrae. It is extremely common in the neck due to the high degree of stress associated with holding the head up and can cause one shoulder to appear higher than the other or the head to appear titled. If not treated early, the condition can get worse quickly.
Stress is another common cause of neck and upper back pain. When some people get stressed, they unconsciously contract their muscles, particularly the neck and back muscles. This “muscle guarding” is usually a response designed to guard against injury. But it can also cause chronic tightness in the upper back leading to pain.
Finally, a herniated disc can also cause neck and upper back pain. When a disc in your cervical spine bulges, it puts pressure on the nerves that exit from the spine through that area. Such bulging isn’t as common in cervical discs as in lumbar discs, but it can still happen especially after a whiplash.
If you have these or any other musculoskeletal pains, contact Florida Spine right away at 567-7777 to get treatment.