Chronic neck pain causes people of all ages a great deal of pain. While it comes as little surprise that many older adults suffer from some sort of chronic back pain, the statistics on younger adults may surprise you. According to the American Osteopathic Association, nearly 65% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 reported experiencing chronic back pain in the last year and/or knowing someone close to them within that age range who suffered from it. With people of all ages suffering, it’s important for all of us to have a better understanding of the root cause of our pain. By understanding various neck pain causes, you can figure out the best way to proceed and determine whether or not chiropractic care is right for you!
Sometimes called a soft tissue sprain, muscular strains are by far the most common cause of chronic back pain and also the least severe. The muscle that’s likely strained in instances of neck pain is called the levator scapulae; the muscle connecting your shoulder to your neck (more specifically, the C3/C4 vertebrae).
So now you know what is specifically causing this type of pain, but how can you tell if this is the type of neck pain you’re dealing with? Well, here are just a few common scenarios in which these injuries occur:
- Sleeping in an awkward position
- Fall of any kind that leads to sudden impact on the side of your head
- Poor posture when standing or sitting
- Abnormal amounts of stress
- Bending neck in an awkward position (i.e. holding a phone between your head and shoulder, carrying a heavy bag on one side, etc.)
If any of these scenarios seem to fit you and you are dealing with a chronic neck pain situation, then you might be combating a muscular strain. Options worth considering in terms of healing include icing the affected area regularly, performing stretches to strengthen the area to prevent future straining, and of course chiropractic adjustments.
Issues with the Cervical Spine
Much less common than a muscular strain, your chronic back pain may also be a result of some sort of structural damage to the cervical spine itself. Herniated discs, cervical osteoarthritis, or even cervical degenerative disc disease can cause significant neck pain and doesn’t subside easily. If you’ve considered a strain/sprain to be the cause of your pain and that seems unlikely, consider consulting a medical professional to see if you’re battling something like one of these more serious issues.
Lastly, cervical arthritis is an issue associated with chronic neck pain worth noting. While more commonly associated with older adults, arthritis can affect people of all ages. Aside from chronic pain, other symptoms include muscle weakness, numbness, or stiffness. While the buildup of arthritis can’t be stagnated once it starts, it can be slowed. Stretching is a viable way of accomplishing this, but strength training is most effective.
In 2015, a study was performed on 180 women suffering from cervical arthritis ages 25-35 years old. Split into two groups, half of the women performed strength training while the other half performed stretching exercises. While both groups saw improvement, over 75% of women performing strength training exercises on a daily-basis reported ‘considerable or complete’ pain relief! While the term strength training may sound daunting to someone in pain or someone without a regular workout routine, what these women did to train their necks was manageable for most people to fit into their busy schedules and can even be done at home. Here’s something manageable you can try out if you’re looking for ways to slow arthritis buildup:
- Sit up straight in a chair and put the back of your head in the loop of the resistance band, the ends of which should be securely tied to a nearby stationary object that is level with your head.
- Make sure your neck and back stay straight as you slightly lean forward from your hips. Your head will move forward about 1 foot.
- Slowly return to the starting position, keeping shoulders back as you keep your neck straight.
- Repeat 15 times.
For muscle strains and arthritis, chiropractic care is a great option for most. With a treatment plan in place personalized for you based on your specific needs, your local chiropractor can help to get you healthy and get you back to being healthy!
Fulk Chiropractic is Kansas City’s largest chiropractor and has been in practice over 30 years in the Olathe community. Open 7 days a week, our great doctors are always there when you need them. For more information on our office, call us today at (913)-764-6237.