“What a pain in the neck!” This phrase is uttered by countless people reacting to countless situations – but certain risk factors lead to very real and challenging neck pain. Fortunately, there are also many ways to prevent this common medical condition, says Kaliq Chang, MD, of Atlantic Spine Center.
Our neck, or cervical spine, is comprised of vertebrae that stretch from the base of the skull to the upper torso. Cervical discs between the vertebrae absorb any shock between the bones, and the bones, ligaments and muscles of the neck support the head and allow for movement.
So any injury, inflammation or other abnormalities in this region can cause neck pain. But certain conditions and problems are specific risk factors, Dr. Chang says.
• Poor posture
• Staying in the same position for too long
• Sleeping in a bad position
• Jerking the neck during exercise
• Neck injuries such as whiplash
• Herniated spinal disc
• Pinched nerve
• Degenerative disc disease
• Lymph node swelling in the neck due to virus
• Conditions affecting neck muscles, such as fibromyalgia
With so many possible causes, neck pain can prove difficult to completely avoid, Dr. Chang notes. But he offers these tips to prevent it where possible:
But there’s good news, too. Since neck pain doesn’t typically signal a serious condition, it can often be relieved within a few days.