It’s no surprise that so many of us spend most of our days staring at computers or iPhones. In reality, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 National Health Interview Survey, 16.1% of American adults had neck pain in the previous three months.
A stiff neck occurs when muscles deteriorate over time due to improper posture or abuse. When your neck muscles weaken, and you attempt to turn your head, the joint does not move smoothly because it has become misaligned. Frequently, the joint catches on something, causing a muscle to be pulled or a nerve to be struck irregularly.
Then you’ll experience immediate pain and a defensive spasm in your body. Because your body doesn’t want you to get harmed anymore, it will clench, making you feel as if you can’t move and leaving you questioning how you got hurt in the first place.
The muscles around your neck joints can grow tired and overstretched if you spend all day looking down at your computer monitor. Long hours of driving, as well as staring at your phone, might have the same effect. And doing this daily can cause your neck joints to shift. Try some preventive measures first before finding out how to fix neck and shoulder pain.
How Doctors Diagnose Neck and Shoulder Pain
A comprehensive physical examination and history of your pain are usually sufficient for most injuries to determine the diagnosis. Depending on the location of your pain, source of your injury, or other symptoms, your doctor may order several tests. X-rays, blood tests, CT scans and an electrocardiogram (ECG). These are possible ways of diagnosing the problem before deciding how to fix neck and shoulder pain.
X-rays: If you experience soreness to the touch along the bony portions of your shoulder or spine, a history of substantial trauma, deformity in the area, or your physician suspects a disorder involving your heart or lungs, he may order an X-ray.
ECG: Your physician can order an electrocardiogram If you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, risk indicators for a heart attack such as tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Blood tests: This may be ordered if you have chest discomfort, shortness of breath, or risk indicators for a heart attack such as: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and tobacco use.
MRI: An MRI isn’t always necessary on a first visit, but it can help detect ongoing discomfort and failure to respond to simple therapy options.
CT scan: A CT scan can be conducted when more detail is required. Other structures like the aorta are thought to cause the pain or when it is hard to read a fracture.
How to Prevent Neck and Shoulder Pain
Lifestyle adjustments and ergonomic workplace solutions can reduce a stiff neck. Breaking undesirable behaviours, such as chronic poor posture, can also help with prevention. Regular exercise can strengthen your muscles, making them less prone to strain or injury. Smoking can cause back and neck pain, especially in people who have been addicted to nicotine for a long time. Consult a doctor and seek advice on how to fix neck and shoulder pain.
The muscles in your back, neck and shoulders can become stiff as a result of stress. Neck pain and stiffness can be treated and prevented by reducing stress. You can choose from a range of methods to alleviate stress, including:
1. Listening to your favourite music
2. Meditating regularly
3. Taking a vacation or break
4. Participating in an activity that you enjoy like a hobby. If you don’t have a leisure activity yet, consider taking a golf membership.
Exercises are the most recommended technique on how to fix neck and shoulder pain. Regular exercise has been linked to plenty of health advantages. Many of these can help avoid injury and pain caused by weak neck muscles, as well as relieve stress-related tension. The following are some of the overall advantages of exercise:
1. Muscle and bone strengthening
2. Increasing the strength of your immune system
3. Improving your mental health by assisting you in sleeping better
4. Relieving stress and extending your life span
Remember, exercise does not have to resemble weightlifting or marathon running! Walking, yoga, and playing with your dog are excellent methods to include more physical activity into your routine if you are wondering how to fix neck and shoulder pain without vigorous exercises. Your age, environment, and skill, among other things, may influence the ideal sort of exercise for you.
Limit the Time you Use your Smartphone
Limit the amount of time you spend looking at your smartphone. Constantly glancing down at your phone strains your neck muscles, which can lead to pain. If you frequently use your smartphone, consider some of the following strategies on how to fix neck and shoulder pain to relieve the strain:
1. Holding your phone between your shoulder and ear is not a good idea
2. Regularly disconnect from your phone.
3. If you have chronic pain, adjust your position or take a break.
4. Stretch once you’ve finished using your phone to help your muscles relax.
5. Don’t drive without taking a break for long periods.
Be Mindful During and After Driving
Sitting behind the wheel of a car can harm your neck in the same way that sitting at a desk all day might. Here are some strategies for avoiding a stiff neck if you have to drive your car for long periods:
Stand up and stretch throughout your breaks: Set the alarm to notify you when it’s time to stop.
Make sure your seat is appropriately set: Set the driver’s seat and headrest to offer you the best support and optimum posture.
Texting while driving is never a good idea: Constantly gazing up and down from your cellphone to the road is illegal, dangerous, and harmful to your neck.
Alter your sleeping position: One of the essential things you can do for your well-being is getting a decent night’s sleep.
Assume a Proper Sleeping Position
Your sleeping position can also have an impact on your neck. Compared to sleeping on your stomach, sleeping on your side or back puts less strain on your neck. However, when sleeping on your side, your cervical spine and thoracic posture are critical for neck and back pain management.
Lying with your face looking upwards and your dominant hand lifted over your head leads to more neck pain. Sleeping on one side with a suitable pillow for optimal alignment improves sleep quality.
Treating Neck and Shoulder Pain at Home
If your neck and shoulder discomfort is mild, you can use home treatments to help reduce it.
1. Take a vacation from sports and other activities that could irritate the area.
2. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for the first two days after your pain begins. Wrap the ice pack in a cloth and apply it five times daily for up to 20 minutes. This will aid in the reduction of swelling.
3. Use a heating pad or a warm compress to provide heat.
4. Take over-the-counter pain medications.
5. Reduce swelling and pain by visiting a pain specialist or using a pain-relieving shoulder wrap. Look them up on the internet, and you will get various solutions on how to fix neck and shoulder pain.
6. Massage the neck and shoulders gently.
7. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever cream.
Exercises for Neck and Shoulder Pain
To ease neck and shoulder pain, try these stretches and exercises. These are gentle stretches and motions to help with stiffness. Stop doing the exercises and visit a doctor if your pain worsens.
A doctor may also recommend you to a physical therapist who can help relieve the discomfort by working on your soft tissue and muscles. The therapist can prescribe an exercise plan and advise how to fix neck and shoulder pain. This will help to strengthen your neck and shoulders and help you avoid injury in the future.
Perform three or four circuits of the following stretches at a time:
1. Sit in a comfortable position.
2. Tilt your head forward while touching your chin to your chest. Hold that position for 5 to 10 seconds.
3. Slowly return your gaze to the ceiling by tilting your head straight back. Hold it in place for 5–10 seconds.
4. Tilt your head to the right as though your ear is pointing towards your shoulder. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds, keeping your shoulder relaxed.
5. Repeat the process on the other side.
6. Slowly rotate your head to the right as if you’re gazing over your shoulder. Hold that position for 5 to 10 seconds.
7. Repeat the movement on the other side.
Levator Scapula Stretch
The levator scapula muscle is found on each side of your neck, at the side and back. It lifts the scapula bone, which links your upper arm and collarbone.
1. Stand with your side against the wall, and your arm bent up at the elbow to form a right angle.
2. Slowly turn your head to the opposite side and bend until you feel a slight stretch in your neck and back. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds.
3. Repeat with the opposite side.
4. Stretch your shoulders.
5. Stand in a doorway with your hands on the door frame and both arms bent at a right angle.
6. Lean forward until your collarbone feels slightly stretched.
1. Stand in a doorway with your hands on the door frame and both arms bent at a right angle.
2. Lean forward until your collarbone feels slightly stretched.
3. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds.
Treating Neck and Shoulder Pain
The underlying cause of neck and shoulder discomfort determines how to treat it. Emergency treatment for heart attacks, strokes, and other critical diseases is common. For the most part, physical therapy services, home remedies, and massage will help you feel better. The following are some of the more severe conditions that may require immediate attention.
In the event of fractures of the collarbone or shoulder blade, arm slings are the first line of therapy to maintain your arm and shoulder in place while the injury heals. Consult an accident injury attorney to provide legal counsel and representation if you have suffered bodily or mental harm and financial loss.
If surgery is needed, the primary method involves reattaching the broken ends of the bone and fixing them to keep them from moving while they recover. Find a reputable company that offers physical therapy medical billing solutions to transmit claims to your insurance company. Anesthesia may be required for the insertion of screws and plates.
Rotator cuff tear
Nonsurgical therapies benefit roughly 80% of persons with rotator cuff injuries. Your doctor may recommend surgery if you have considerable shoulder weakness and the symptoms have lasted 6 to 12 months. Surgery for a torn rotator cuff entails reattaching the damaged tendons to the upper arm bone.
When Should you See a Doctor?
You should consult a doctor if your neck pain interferes with your daily activities. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, you should seek medical attention for neck pain as soon as possible if:
1. Your discomfort began as a result of an injury or a car accident.
2. You’re experiencing agony in your arms or legs.
3. Your arms, hands, or legs have numbness or weakness.
4. You’re suffering from a headache and neck pain.
5. A more profound underlying health condition could be causing these symptoms.
Neck and shoulder pains are widespread issues that affect millions each year. A stiff neck and shoulder with minor pain can usually be managed at home with ice, over-the-counter pain medications, and light stretching. The more you know about how to fix neck and shoulder pain, the better.
Neck discomfort can be reduced and prevented by making lifestyle changes. Take a rest from your phone or computer and pay attention to your posture and healthcare. If you wake up with a sore or uncomfortable neck regularly, consider changing your sleeping pattern and position or trying a new pillow.
Contact a doctor if your neck discomfort persists, intensifies, or is accompanied by other symptoms. Telehealth companies are a good choice because they can provide long-distance healthcare support. This is especially crucial if you’ve recently been injured. Being informed on how to fix neck and shoulder pain is beneficial. However, taking action as soon as you discover a problem will help you prevent it from worsening and build preventive strategies.