As we all are living in what seems to be an ever increasingly busy world, it makes sense that many of us also experience increased neck pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, the annual occurrence of neck pain in the United States alone is over 30% of the adult population, while 50% of those people will also experience chronic or recurring neck pain within the same amount of time. Additionally, anywhere between 20-70% of people will experience neck pain that is severe enough to interfere with their daily activities. So, aside from being extremely common within the adult population in the United States, neck pain can also be very debilitating and have consequences in other areas of life–something people who have ever experienced neck pain are sure to be aware of.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons why neck pain is so common in the United States is because there are many factors that can contribute to whether or not someone is having neck pain. While there are often many explanations, some that may require the help of a medical health professional, here are some of the most common reasons why someone may experience neck pain;
- Poor Posture- Poor posture is a common culprit of neck pain, perhaps even more so today. With the global pandemic Covid-19 still affecting daily life, many people are still having to work from home. This may mean more virtual zoom calls and working on a computer, which puts added strain on the neck. Other activities like reading in bed or playing on your smartphone are also known to cause added stress on the neck.
- Stress and Anxiety- Stress and anxiety are also another common cause of unexplained neck pain–and they are also being experienced by more and more people during the current pandemic. Stress and anxiety cause the muscles in the neck to tighten, which may lead to increased tension and pain.
- Bad Sleeping Position- Much like poor posture, falling asleep in the wrong position can lead to the onset of increased neck pain. Things like falling asleep with too many pillows under your head can lead to the improper support of muscles in the neck, and conversely not enough pillows can lead to the same thing. If the pain you experience in your neck is there first thing in the morning and then goes away as the day goes on, it is quite possible your pillows are the problem.
- Different Forms of Arthritis- There are several different types of arthritis that may lead to pain in the neck. For instance, osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in the joint begins to wear down and spinal stenosis occurs with the narrowing of the spine over time. Some forms of arthritis are due to age and wear and tear of the body while others do occur in young adults or adolescents.
- Pinched Nerves- When a nerve becomes pinched, it can radiate pain all throughout the body, especially in the area where it is compressed like the neck or back. A pinched nerve can also cause numbness and tingling. Pinched nerves are commonly experienced with other conditions like spinal stenosis and herniated discs.
- Herniated Disc- A herniated or slipped disc is a painful condition that occurs when one of the discs in the spinal column starts slipping out of place. This can occur anywhere along the spine, including the neck. When this happens, it can be extremely painful and irritate other nerves in the area.
- Injuries- Injuries that occur from car accidents like whiplash or other sports related injuries can also cause someone to experience pain in the neck. The trauma that is caused to things like surrounding tissues, muscles, ligaments, and nerves may also lead to the prolonged experience of pain.
These are just a few of the most common reasons for neck pain. There may be other reasons such as infection or abnormal growths that may be causing the pain as well. That is why it is always important to seek help from a medical health professional if necessary.
When it comes to having neck pain, the duration of pain experienced is usually classified into three categories. Acute pain is commonly classified as pain that lasts less than four weeks. Subacute pain is pain that lasts anywhere between four to twelve weeks. Lastly, chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than three or more months. It is commonly advised to speak with a health professional if you have been experiencing pain for more than one week, especially if it is occurring with any other symptoms, such as;
- Swollen glands
- Severe, extreme pain with no apparent explanation
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weakness, tingling, or numbness
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Pain that radiates down the legs or the arms
- Any other symptoms that may be out of the ordinary
It is always advised to seek medical attention if you are uncertain whether or not your need it.