Your neck (cervical spine) is made up of vertebrae that extend from the skull to the upper torso. Cervical disks absorb shock between the bones. The bones, ligaments, and muscles of your neck support your head and allow for motion. Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness. Many people experience neck pain or stiffness in the neck occasionally. In many cases, it is due to poor posture, normal wear and tear, or overuse. Sometimes, neck pain is caused by injury from a fall, contact sports, or whiplash.
To prevent neck pain, you should take good care of your body and practice healthy habits. Here are a few tips to help you stop neck pain before it starts.
- Reduce your stress and tension: Tense muscles in the neck and shoulder can lead to neck pain. Find a few effective ways to reduce your stress (writing in a journal, talking to a friend, going on a walk, etc.), and use those when you feel stress starting to build.
- Sit and stand properly: Poor posture can quickly lead to neck pain. Watch how you’re standing and sitting every day.
- Exercise both your neck and body regularly: Aerobic exercise is especially good, and you should aim for a 30-minute cardio workout 5 times a week.
- Sleep with a cervical pillow. Cervical pillows, or orthopedic pillows, are contoured to support the spaces under the head and neck with deeper depressions where the head lies and extra support under the neck. They help keep the neck in alignment with the spine.
- Sleep on your back. Sleeping on your back is the best position to let your entire spine rest comfortably. If you prefer to sleep on your side or on your stomach, make sure your pillow is not too high-around 4 to 6 inches thick. This will prevent your head and neck from turning unnaturally to either side.
- Attain and maintain a healthy weight. Since your spine is responsible for carrying the weight of your body, being at a healthy weight will help you take good care of your spine and not overstrain it.
- Eat healthy food. Keeping a healthy meal plan will also help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking can affect your bones and muscles in your cervical spine.
- Lift heavy items safely: You don’t want to injure your neck (or any part of your back) by not going slowly and carefully when lifting something.
- Wear a seat belt: This can help prevent whiplash.
- Use proper sports equipment: Protect your neck while you’re playing sports, especially sports that can easily lead to neck injuries.
If you are having neck pain, contact Dr. Kushwaha. He’s a board certified Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Spine Surgery. To learn more about his procedures or to schedule an appointment please call, (713) 587-6263.