Home » Neck Pain » Have a Pain in Your Neck? Here Are 5 Reasons Why.
  • Have a Pain in Your Neck? Here Are 5 Reasons Why.

    neck pain

    Everyone wakes up with the occasional stiff neck from sleeping funny during the night. But what if you have chronic tension or, worse, chronic pain in your neck? You obviously go to your massage therapist to get rid of the tension and pain. But do you know where it’s coming from so you can prevent it?

    I’ve been specializing in chronic neck pain for over 10 years now, and have found that there are 5  causes of chronic neck pain that show up more than any other. Here’s the shortlist, in no particular order, along with a few things you can do to prevent the pain from each cause.

    1. Posture/ergonomics

    • Car headrests are built for safety, not comfort. They are pushing, and holding, our heads farther and farther forward to help prevent whiplashes during rear-end and head-on crashes. Unfortunately, that’s putting quite a strain on everyone’s neck muscles. For those of us who drive only short distances it’s mostly annoying and we can work out the kinks as soon as we get out of the car with a few backward neck rolls. Anyone who drives for a living is in a much bigger world of hurt, however. On long car trips you should be stopping every hour or so to get out, walk around, and work out the kinks anyway, but I know many employers won’t allow their drivers to do that. In that case, you have to stretch before you get in the vehicle and then take advantage of stop signs, stop lights, and other pauses to do some some of those neck rolls. One last thing you can do is to play with the height of the headrest to minimize your discomfort. Just make sure to do any adjusting when you’re not driving.
    • Tech – You’ve probably heard more times than you can count that computers, tablets, and phones are wrecking your neck. The thing is, you heard right. Take tech breaks each hour to do some backward neck rolls to counteract the forward and downward motion of your neck while using your technology.

    2. Pillow

    If your pillow is either too high or too low it  will cause your neck to not be aligned with the rest of your spine while you’re while sleeping. I wrote a whole blog post on this topic a few years ago. If you suspect this is part of your problem, I highly suggest reading it. Here’s the link: Is Your Pillow a Pain in Your Neck?

    3. Stress

    Stress causes your neck and shoulder muscles to tighten up to bring shoulders up and forward in order to protect the front of your neck. This causes one set of muscles to be too short and another set to be too long, which causes both sets to hurt for completely opposite reasons. Ow! The obvious prevention is to find ways to better manage, or even *gasp* reduce or eliminate some of your stressors. If you need help with that a counselor, therapist, or stress management coach/mentor can help you.

    4. Eye Problems

    If you have sight impairment in one or both eyes, you may compensate by tilting or twisting your head & neck while doing tasks that would tax the “bad” eye(s). If you suspect that you may need glasses or may need a new lens prescription, go see your eye doctor, asap! If you have chronic headaches to go with your neck pain and eye strain, get there even quicker.

    5. Head or Shoulder issues

    It may be cliche, but when it comes to the body, every thing really is connected (in one way or another) to every thing else. Since your head and shoulders are directly attached to your neck, it should come as no shock that dysfunction in either of these two areas will have a direct impact on your neck. For instance if your shoulders are too far forward, it will pull on all the neck muscles that attach at or near the shoulder. If you have TMJD, your tight jaw muscles will pull on your jaw bones which will pull on the neck muscles that attach to those very same jaw bones. So, even if your head and/or shoulders don’t hurt, you’ll want to address them in order to calm your neck pain.

    There you have it… 5 reasons you have a pain in your neck, and what you can do about it.