It's A Pain In The Neck! 10 Causes and Treatments

(Guest Post)

It is estimated that neck pain is one of the most frequent complaints, alongside headache, knee pain, and lower back pain. Almost one-third of the adult American population report experiencing neck discomfort on an annual basis. Most people are familiar with the unpleasant feeling of waking up with a stiff neck from time to time. Yet, the discomfort doesn’t materialize itself in soreness only. Neck pain can be debilitating as it interferes with many of our day-to-day activities. It affects driving, working, and even interacting with other people. Worryingly, half of the adults who experience neck issues can develop some form of chronic pain. 

This takes us to one important question, namely: where does neck pain come from? The majority of individuals can pinpoint the cause of their discomfort to a muscular or mobility mishap. Those who frequent gyms are familiar with neck pain when they exercise the muscles in the neck and shoulder areas, for instance. The soreness will disappear once the muscles have healed completely. The second case of neck pain is linked to making a “wrong movement”. It’s typically a sudden move, such as cranking your head violently to one side. The neck area requires rest to recover. The reason why most people can identify these two common causes for neck pain is that they can witness the pain settle in as it happens. To be in control of your pain, you need to understand where it comes from. That’s precisely where it can be helpful to learn more about some of the most common causes of neck pain. 

#1. Mitochondrial myopathy

The mitochondria are the energy factory inside your cells. They produce the energy the cell requires to carry out its functions and survive. Simply put, mitochondria break down glucose into fuel (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) through chemical reactions. Mitochondrial diseases target the production of energy at a cellular level. When the defective mitochondria lead to muscular problems, doctors talk about mitochondrial myopathy. These could come in a variety of shapes and levels. No all myopathies lead to debilitating results. Yet, they all cause weaknesses in the muscle tissues. People with mild defect mitochondria can experience weaknesses in some specific muscle areas, such as the legs, the arms, or the neck. You will also struggle to maintain a fitness routine as myopathies contribute to physical exertion. 

#2. Curved spine

Scoliosis is one of the most common conditions that tend to develop among children and growing teenagers. However, it can also be found in adults as the result of long-term degenerative conditions. To put it simply, there is more than one type of scoliosis. It occurs when a portion of the spine curves sideways. Individuals can develop scoliosis at different levels along the spine; it is important to learn more about the condition. When scoliosis is prominent, you can spot uneven shoulders, waist, and hips with a naked eye. However, individuals who develop only mild cases may not be able to see any physical manifestation of scoliosis. This can happen because your body tries to compensate for the spinal curve. As a result, you can experience back or neck pain even though the curvature isn’t apparent in the mirror. A professional can help diagnose and treat the condition. 

#3. Chronic stress

Whether it’s the pressure at work or being stuck in a complex situation in your day-to-day life, long-lasting stress has physical consequences. Chronic stress takes its toll on the body and can lead to severe muscle tension and rigidity. Unfortunately, chronic stress is a permanent sensation that can last for several days, weeks, or even months. This makes it hard in the long-term to realize that you are suffering from stress. Tenses muscle neck can’t relax, which leads to sharp pain and limited mobility. There isn’t much of a solution for it, unfortunately. Muscle tensions will remain a problem for as long as you fail to acknowledge the underlying mental health issues. 

#4. Sleeping posture

Waking up with a sore neck is wrongly blamed on a bad mattress. In reality, it’s not uncommon for individuals to buy high-quality bedding solutions and still experience neck pain in the morning. The issue has a lot to do with the way you sleep. Indeed there are different sleeping postures, which need specific pillow shapes and support. Sleeping with the wrong pillow for your posture could contribute to pain and stiffness. So it’s important to select the right support whether you are a back, side, or stomach sleeper. 

#5. Screen height

If you’ve seized the opportunity to work from home during the pandemic, you might want to reconsider your home office arrangement. Indeed, a lot of Americans have created an improvised workstation at home, working from the bed or the sofa. It’s important to keep the screen at eye level to avoid unnecessary neck pain. You can’t safely work on a screen for long working hours with your neck bent forward. Unfortunately, when you are focused on work, you may not notice that the position is uncomfortable. 

#6. Inflammation

Nobody likes to talk about joint pain as the inflammatory condition tends to be associated with old age. However, lack of hydration and an unhealthy diet can contribute to the early onset of joint pain. Thankfully, more often than not, the condition is reversible and manageable in its early stages with simple lifestyle changes. As the neck is made up of vertebrae separated by discs, the movements are controlled by a system of muscles and tendons that surround the spine. The joints, aka the connective tissues between the muscle and the spine, are the first to show signs of tear and wear if your diet lacks antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and water. 

#7. Disc degeneration 

The disks between the vertebrae act as shock absorbers. As we age, the discs can become thinner and more fragile as part of a natural degenerative process. While the process is not a fatality, it is a frequent occurrence. Minor injuries are some of the most common causes of degeneration. Over time, injuries contribute to the wear and tear of discs, which lose their shock-absorbing properties. Treatment varies, ranging from medication, non-surgical treatments, and even operations depending on the situation. 

#8. Uncoordinated vocal cords

Doctors talk about laryngeal muscle tension disorders to describe a situation in which a patient experiences vocal problems and sometimes combined with breathing problems. Indeed, speaking requires the coordination of many muscles inside your neck. When these muscles lose coordination or contract inappropriately, this can lead to a variety of consequences. It can affect your voice, causing a hoarse sound as you speak. In extreme cases, a patient can also lose their voice completely. As the problem is muscular, it also leads to neck pain and neck fatigue. 

#9. Swollen thyroid glands

The thyroid glands can become painful after you’ve suffered an infection. However, the reaction can occur several weeks after the infection, which can make it tricky for individuals to self-diagnose. Typically, you will notice some swelling in the area above where your collar bones meet. However, in some cases, the swelling isn’t apparent so you can’t locate the source of the pain. 

#10. Food poisoning

Every year, 48 million American's experience food poisoning. More often than not, people recover without medical treatment. Typically, you would experience nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. However, extreme cases can also cause neck stiffness and respiratory distress. If you experience these symptoms, you need to seek medical assistance immediately. 

Your neck pain can be triggered from a variety of causes. Since it is a common complaint, it's important to uncover the root cause. Acting rapidly can ensure the issue is corrected early on to prevent chronic pain from developing. 

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