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Are Your Daily Habits Fueling Neck Pain?

If you’re struggling with aggravating neck pain, you’re not alone. Over one-quarter of American adults experience neck pain. And because your neck plays an important role, supporting your spinal cord and housing the integral ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves that support your head, neck pain can make your life miserable. 

Even though serious health problems aren’t the cause of most neck pain, it can still wreak havoc on your daily life. Neck pain specialist John Huffman, MD, and his compassionate team at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Arlington, Virginia, understand the need to treat your neck pain efficiently and effectively so you can get back to enjoying your life. 

Treating neck pain sometimes requires medical intervention, but it’s often your daily habits that create pain in the first place. Our team put together this useful guide to help you understand how your habits might fuel your neck pain. Read on to learn more!

1. Not practicing good posture

So many people today spend much of their time sitting. Whether you’re sitting at a desk, in front of the TV, in your car, or at a table, chances are you don’t think enough about your posture. As a result, most of us develop poor posture. 

Since your head is heavy, when it rests too far forward, it causes the muscles in your neck and upper back to strain. Poor posture can also stretch your spinal cord and nerves out of position, creating compression, discomfort, and neck pain. 

Improving your posture can help alleviate your pain and prevent further episodes, but the damage caused by poor posture frequently requires medical intervention to address the underlying inflammation and displacement it caused. 

2. Sleeping on your stomach

The hours you spend sleeping can have a big impact on how your neck feels when you’re awake. This is especially true for those of us who are stomach sleepers since sleeping on your stomach puts an immense amount of stress on your neck.

The extra stress results because to sleep on your stomach, you must fully turn your head and neck to the side. Keeping your neck at this awkward angle for hours on end pulls the muscles and bones in the neck out of alignment.

You may first only notice this awkward sleeping position causes your neck to be stiff and sore in the morning. As time progresses, however, your neck pain will persist throughout the day if you don’t change this bad habit. 

3. Spending too much time staring at screens

If you’re like most people, chances are you spend many hours hunched over a computer or staring down at your phone or another device. It may be hard to believe, but a recent study found American adults spend over 11 hours per day looking at screens as they interact with technology via computers, phones, tablets, smartwatches, and televisions.

Spending all this time looking down at tech pulls your head too far forward. This added force strains your neck and can cause a condition called tech neck. If left untreated, a tech neck can become a danger to the health of your neck since the added pressure on your upper spine can cause discs to slip out of place. 

Over time, these discs may herniate or bulge. When discs in your neck bulge or slip out of place, the nearby nerves get irritated or compressed. We commonly refer to this feeling as having a “pinched nerve.” 

Pinched nerves can cause pain, weakness, or numbing in your shoulders or arms, resulting in a condition called cervical radiculopathy. If you don’t address the underlying cause of pinched nerves, the condition can sometimes lead to serious cases that require surgical intervention. 

Putting an end to your neck pain

The first step in putting your neck pain behind you is to change any daily habits that may fuel your pain. It’s important to note that even after changing your habits, it will likely take some time for your pain to subside.

To effectively address and ease neck pain, seeing a doctor with experience and expertise in treating the condition, like Dr. Huffman, is key. Dr. Huffman diagnoses your condition and recommends a customized treatment plan to reduce your pain. 

When starting treatment, Dr. Huffman typically begins with conservative treatments that may include physical therapy, massage therapy, and ice and heat therapy. If your neck pain persists, Dr. Huffman may recommend additional interventions. He offers specialized interventional treatments including:

To learn more about which habits might cause your neck pain and the innovative therapies that may relieve it, contact Dr. Huffman at the Northern Virginia office of Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists or book an in-person or telehealth appointment online now!

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