Neck and Shoulder Pain: Causes, Solutions and Prevention

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Do you often experience neck and shoulder pain? If so, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from this type of pain on a daily basis. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of neck and shoulder pain as well as some solutions that may help to alleviate the discomfort. Keep reading to learn more.

Neck and Shoulder Pain: Causes

There are a number of potential causes for neck and shoulder pain including:

1.  Overuse  – The muscles in this area become fatigued when they are used too much. An example would be typing at a computer for extended periods of time or playing sports such as tennis or baseball which require strong swings.

2.  Physical Injury –  Injuries to the neck and shoulders often lead to chronic pain because ligaments, tendons, and tissue become stretched out over time which leads to muscle aches and spasms.

3. Chronic Diseases – There are several diseases that can cause chronic pain in the neck and shoulder region such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

4. Poor Posture – People who hold their shoulders and necks in a slumped position for extended periods of time on a daily basis may develop chronic neck and shoulder pain as well as headaches and even reduced vision due to the strain placed on the eyes by looking down all of the time.

5. Repetitive Movement Injury (RMIs)  – When people perform routine tasks repeatedly such as typing, desk work or certain jobs they are at risk for developing an RMI which can cause pain in the neck and shoulders as well as stiffness and swelling in these areas.

Neck and Shoulder Pain: Solutions

Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to relieve your neck and shoulder discomfort:

1.    Stretching

Stretching is a great way to help improve flexibility in the neck and shoulders as well as loosen muscles that may be causing discomfort. Here is an easy exercise that you can do at home: raise your arms out to the side until they are straight up over your head, then gently stretch them down by your sides repeating this movement five times before switching direction.

You can also do this simple stretch while standing with your feet hip-width apart. Put your arms down on the sides. Look straight ahead. Do the head tilt on your right side, while trying to touch the right ear to your right shoulder. You can feel the stretch in your left side of your neck and shoulder. Then do the head tilt on your left side, trying to touch the left ear to your left shoulder. Feel the stretch in your neck and shoulder on the right. Set up a 10-second holding pattern after each repetition. Repeat this three times on each side to complete three sets.

2. Heat/Ice Therapy

Applying either heat or cold packs to the painful area can help relieve muscle aches, stiffness and pain in general. Some people find that alternating between both types of treatments works well but every individual is different, so experiment to see what provides you with the greatest relief.

3. Gentle massage

Applying gentle pressure to the affected area with your hands may help reduce muscle tension and even reduce pain.

4. Exercise

Make sure you get regular exercise in order to keep your muscles healthy and strong. Many people find that exercising regularly helps improve their overall mood which may have a positive impact on the frequency and severity of neck and shoulder pain.

5. New Workstation

If you spend several hours per day working at a desk, it might be time for an ergonomic desk evaluation. To prevent injury, be sure that your furniture is ergonomically sound. Monitor height, keyboard position and mouse placement are all important factors that should be considered when setting up your workstation. If you are experiencing discomfort, try moving these items around until you find an arrangement that is most comfortable for you. Your body will thank you.

6. Medical Treatment

You should always consult with a medical professional if you are experiencing chronic neck and shoulder pain because there may be underlying medical conditions like that are causing your discomfort. A doctor can provide you with excellent care and advice on how to alleviate your pain.

5.  Pain Medication

Some people find that prescription medication provides them with relief from chronic neck and shoulder pain. There are over-the-counter pain medications (like ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen) that can be purchased in drugstores that may help with your discomfort. Be sure to speak with your doctor before taking any medication.

Neck and Shoulder Pain: Prevention

There are several things you can do to prevent chronic neck and shoulder pain from impacting your life:

  • Practice Good Posture When Working At The Computer

It is important to maintain good posture when working with a computer because if the head is bent forward it increases pressure on the discs in your neck. Some people find it helpful to use a standup desk which allows you to stand up throughout the day rather than remaining seated for hours at a time.

  • Take Frequent Breaks

Taking frequent breaks throughout the day is important for keeping your muscles healthy, working at peak efficiency and preventing chronic injuries that can occur when you remain in the same position for far too long.

  • Maintain A Healthy Weight

If you are overweight, carrying excess weight around for long periods of time can place unnecessary stress on your spinal column and joints throughout your body which could contribute to chronic neck and shoulder pain. Maintaining a healthy weight helps distribute the weight of your upper body across a greater surface area which can help you avoid this problem.

  • Strengthen Your Neck Muscles

Strengthening your neck muscles can help prevent chronic neck and shoulder pain by providing additional support to your spinal column which places less strain on the surrounding joints and muscles. Performing exercises like head nods, chin tucks, shrugging or shoulder blade squeezes will work well for this purpose.

  • Get Adequate Rest

Proper rest is essential for proper muscle recovery after activities that place stress on different parts of the body like lifting heavy objects. If you are feeling persistent discomfort in your neck or shoulders it may be due to a lack of rest and recuperation time for these muscles.

  • Avoid Lifting Weights That Are Too Heavy Or Heavier Than What You Can Handle

Lifting weights that are too heavy for you puts your body at risk of injury because it forces the muscles to work harder than usual which could result in chronic neck and shoulder pain if done excessively or lead to an acute injury if performed improperly. For example, lifting weights with a jerking motion or moving arms above shoulder height may be appropriate for some people but not everyone is capable of doing these movements safely without injuring themselves.

  • Avoid Sleeping On Hard Beds Or Sleeping At Odd Hours Of The Day/Night

Sleeping on hard surfaces or sleeping at odd hours during the day or night could cause a person’s body to become misaligned which places more stress on their spine and joints leading to an increased risk of chronic neck and shoulder pain. This is especially true if you sleep while lying on your stomach or side which are positions that are less stable.

  • Take The Time To Stretch & Warm Up Properly Before Exercising

Taking time to stretch and warm up properly before exercising is particularly important for people that lift weights or engage in rigorous physical activities because it relaxes and loosens the muscles and joints which places them in a safer, more stable position when engaging in strenuous activity. This helps reduce chronic neck and shoulder pain because it reduces the likelihood of experiencing an injury during these types of activities while simultaneously increasing general flexibility leading to improved posture which can help prevent chronic neck and shoulder pain from developing in the first place.

Neck and shoulder pain can be debilitating and frustrating. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, stress, and muscle tension. Fortunately, there are many solutions that may help to alleviate the discomfort. If you are experiencing neck or shoulder pain, please contact The Orthopaedic & Pain Practice for more information about how they can help. They offer a variety of treatments that may relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Thanks for reading!