A Real Pain In The Neck

At one time or another we have all experienced a stiff neck or a pinched nerve from sleeping in a bad position. Maybe, you strained your neck while weight training or possibly from sitting in front of your computer all day.

You are not alone. Many people hold a lot of their tension in their neck. According to an article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic neck pain and stiffness is likely caused by daily habits from poor posture, stress, or imbalance of weak or tightened upper back muscles.

On the other hand, a pinched nerve in the neck is caused when the nerve that goes from the spinal cord to the neck or arm is irritated or has pressure on it. This could be caused by a narrowing of the spinal joint because of osteoarthritis and wear and tear from repeated injuries. A pinched nerve can cause numbness, tingling, deep aching, or electrical shooting pain from the side of the neck all the way down to the fingers on one side.

Our necks are one tuff muscle group, their daunting task is literally to hold up the weight of a bowling ball all day. This delicate balance to support our 11 pound head requires these muscles and ligaments to constantly perform a wide variety of tasks including movement of the head and neck and assistance in swallowing.

So, what's the fix? In many cases, from my experience, being more aware of your posture is the first step in correcting neck position, whether it is how you sleep or how you sit in the car or perform repetitive movements. Secondly, daily exercise and stretching is a simple task but very effective. Just like any other muscle, we need to strengthen and stretch our necks to improve function and mobility.

Massage therapy is a great option for chronic pain. There are many types of massage including a variety of strokes, pressure and specialized techniques to help increase circulation, improve range of motion and overall well being.

A randomized trial reported in the Clinical Journal of Pain concluded:

"Patients who received 10 massages over the course of 10 weeks experienced significant improvement in their neck pain because of that treatment. Furthermore, none of the patients experienced any adverse reactions to the treatment, proving that massage is not only effective but also safe to help alleviate that pain in the neck."

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.