Neck pain can be debilitating to deal with when it’s persistent. Today we’re talking about why cases of neck pain can go on without seeming to improve, what you can do to ease this at home as well as tips and tricks about sleeping with neck pain.
What Causes Neck Pain?
When patients come to see us here in the clinic, we very often see in the cases where they’re struggling with prolonged neck pain that they’ve lost a tremendous amount of curve. Their neck might be completely straight, or it might even have a reversed curve. This type of curve loss is something we don’t see very often happen in the lower back. In the neck, you should have a nice, smooth curve that allows your body to absorb shock from any day-to-day activities, as well as deal effectively with any stresses and strains it’s subjected to. When this curvature is lost, your neck can no longer deal with the stress and you may experience degeneration of certain parts of the neck, pressure on the discs leading to bulges or herniations, or quite simply a lot of pain or discomfort. This loss of curvature can occur as a result of spending long periods looking down at your phone, from poor posture at your desk if you’re leaning forwards towards the screen or having to look either up or down at your monitor. We very often hear of cases where the patient’s neck spends most of its time throughout the day in a forward bending position, for example if you spend your commute on your phone, followed by slouching in your chair at work, followed by another commute home looking down at your phone, then an evening of television laying in a recumbent position in bed. If you’ve had neck pain for just a couple of days, it’s likely to be a simple strain that will resolve if you address the problem. The cases where the pain is ongoing for a long period of time is often due to unresolved problems that have not been addressed.
How Should You Sleep With Neck Pain?
You may find it difficult to be able to get to sleep with neck pain, or find a position that’s comfortable for you. The best possible position to get yourself in that will ensure your neck is in a good position all night, is one where the neck is neutral. If you do lie on your back, make sure you’re not propping your head up with too many pillows where you might be reinforcing that forward posture. If you sleep on your side, try to sleep with your neck in a neutral position and not in a foetal position. We’re reluctant to advise people to replace their mattresses or pillows if they do have back pain, as these same purchases may become uncomfortable once you’ve managed to shift the problem. We do recommend orthopaedic pillows as these help you to be in a more neutral position whether you sleep on your back or on your side. But if you don’t have one of these at home already, you don’t need to go out and buy one to try it out. Taking an old pillow and rolling up one end can help you to replicate the position it puts your neck in at home. If you’re lying down to perform exercises like a deadbug or marching bridge for example, you may find it uncomfortable to lie without a pillow underneath the head for support. If this is you, you may find it beneficial to pop a pillow under your neck but this will not resolve the problem in the long-term as it does reinforce forward leaning posture.
Can You Get Pain In The Arms/Hands With Neck Pain?
In the same way sciatica affects the lower back, if you have a pinched nerve in the neck you may experience what’s called referred or radiating pain into the arms or hands. The symptoms that will affect your arms, hands or fingers may not present itself as pain, but may instead by weakness, pins and needles, tingling, burning or numbness sensations. You may start to have this pain more frequently if you have a bulging disc that’s pressing against a nerve in your neck, or you may have it while you’re adopting poor posture – for example at your desk at work or while on a computer.
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If this is affecting you, we’ve put together advice in a previous post on what you can be doing in order to relieve this type of problem, which you can find here. Doing these exercises, as well as using ice afterwards and adapting your office set-up to make your screen higher or lower so that your neck is in a neutral position, are things that are going to be the most beneficial for you to get rid of the problem. If however, you have numbness that started originally in the fingers and is gradually spreading to the rest of the hand or arm, we would advise that you visit your GP as this could be more of a sign of peripheral neuropathy, a symptom of diabetes.
We hope today’s article on neck pain has been helpful for you in establishing why you might be experiencing prolonged neck pain that just won’t go away. If you have any questions at all about this topic, please do feel free to get in touch with us and we’d be happy to answer those for you. You can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, reach out to us through our social channels or tune in to our live videos every weekday on our Facebook or YouTube channels. Remember to share this article if you do know someone with neck pain who might find it helpful! If you or someone you know is suffering with back pain, we do have our free to access membership area, which you can sign up to at www.backinshapeapp.com for our step-by-step rehabilitation guides.
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