10 ways you can keep your neck pain under control
Neck pain is a very common complaint. Whilst physiotherapy treatment can help neck pain, it is very important that you learn to help control and manage the problem yourself. Here are some things to consider:
1. Poor posture
Poor posture can cause and re-aggravate neck pain. Learn how to maintain good posture during common activities such as reading, watching TV, sleeping and working. This will reduce neck strain.
Overuse can over-stress the neck structures. Performing the same activity repetitively is unwise. Try to break up and vary your activity from time to time. Examples when overuse can be a problem include painting, gardening, practising your sport (e.g. tennis, golf), lifting, lifting weights and work activities.
3. Poor mscle control
Poor muscle control may lead to fatigue and sub-optimal neck function. Strengthening your neck muscles can help you control your neck problem.
Treatment can often help. Arrange to have treatment on your neck when problems arise or if your neck begins to deteriorate. Don't leave it until problems become severe.
5. Heat and massage
Heat and massage are useful self treatment techniques. Heat often helps muscle spasm or tension. Rubbing creams with salicylate (aspirin) in them can give good localised relief.
6. Regular breaks are important
Regular breaks are important. Try to divide your activities into small chunks and have breaks in between. Performing gentle stretches and range of movement exercises (as prescribed by your physiotherapist) can be very useful during these breaks. Also, get up and walk around regularly.
7. Your chair is very important
Your chair is very important. Make sure you have a good chair for work, study or when at the computer. Your chair should have a good lumbar support, height adjustment and adjustable arm rests.
8. Computer height is important
Computer height is important. It should be at eye level and not too far away. You shouldn't have to twist your neck to use your computer. You should have a document holder, good light and the keyboard should be at elbow level. Your physiotherapist can provide specific guidelines about setting up your work station properly.
9. Avoid tension whilst working
Avoid tension whilst working. When you are tense or you are over using the wrong muscles, it will put increased stress on your neck. An example of this tension is when you shrug your shoulders and hold this position. You will feel the tension in your neck . When you relax from this 'shrugged ' position and let your shoulders drop down and relax, this reduces this tension. Learn to relax these 'shoulder-neck' muscles.
10. Improve your neck flexibility
Improve your neck flexibility. Reduce neck stiffness by stretching tight neck muscles and joints. A stiff neck is less able to withstand strain and loading. Have your physiotherapist show you what exercises you should do.