When is your neck pain more than just posture?
Each year, thousands of Americans suffer from acute onset or persistent neck pain as a result of injury, strain, overuse, or aging. While it is usually related to poor posture or repetitive activity, in order to prevent possible permanent damage, you need to pay attention to it if it persists for more than a few days.
How to Distinguish your Neck Pain
For the sake of brevity, we will discuss two more common, distinct types of neck pain.
- The first type is often felt as a dull ache in the neck that might radiate down into the upper shoulders. Sometimes the pain experienced in the shoulder or shoulder blade may be more noticeable than the neck after a period of time. This type of pain is often an overuse and repetitive stress to the muscle and the burning/aching is the muscle’s way of trying to get you to change your posture or activity so it can heal. It can be easily misdiagnosed and is rarely an emergency but does indicate that something in your activity or posture needs to change.
- The second type of neck pain is called “referred pain” and can be associated with pain that radiates away from the actual problem area into the shoulder blades or, if left untreated, the shoulder and arms. This is often confused with shoulder pain, initially, but can progress to weakness in specific muscles of the arms and shoulder blade. At its worst, it may extend down into the hand and indicates a nerve being pinched off from compression by the disc between the vertebrae or a bony change in the neck anatomy. If left untreated, weakness, numbness, tingling and/or loss of muscular control are possibilities.
The following conditions are most commonly linked to neck pain:
- Cervical Disc Herniation
- Pinched Nerves
- Postural syndrome
Treatments for neck pain range from just changing your work posture or driving position to physical therapy, chiropractic or steroid injections. Those who neglect to see a doctor right away may be setting themselves for a future of intense pain as the pain that is prolonged becomes exponentially more difficult to relieve with conservative measures.
However, treatment alone often is not enough. If you return to the same poor postural positions or repetitive stress activities that perpetuate your pain, your body will never have a chance to heal and strengthen. It has been found that, to have the most successful outcomes over time, a proper ergonomics assessment of your work environment and the use of additional back support to improve postural positioning is a must.
There are many back supports out there but you want to look for one that supports your entire spine up and down, not just across the low back. There are also easy changes that you can make to your work station to prolong your work life-health balance. Seek an ergonomics specialist in your area to help you and you’ll save yourself thousands of dollars in medical bills.