One out of ten of us will have neck pain at some point in our life. In most cases, it is not due to a serious disease or neck problem, and often, the exact cause for the pain is not clear. Most are probably due to minor sprains or bad posture. This comes as no surprise when we consider the activities of modern life such as sitting in front of a computer, watching prolonged periods of television, and an increasing incidence of poor posture – particularly forward head posture.
Problems within the neck can also cause headache, shoulder pain, TMJ or jaw pain, pins and needles in the hands, carpal tunnel syndrome, and upper back pain.
You should seek a thorough spinal examination if you regularly experience any of the following:
- Persistent neck ache first thing in the morning
- Neck stiffness when reversing in the car
- Clicking neck noise when turning
- Constant aching of neck muscles
- Tingling in your hands or fingers.
With more moving parts than any other machine, it’s not surprising your body occasionally cries out in pain or refuses to do what you want it to do. After all, there are hundreds of different muscles and joints that can go wrong.
Causes of Neck Pain
One survey shows that, of adults aged 45-75 years, about 1 in 4 women and about 1 in 5 men have current neck pain. This does not mean, however, that people whose age are under such range are exempt.
By far, the most common cause of neck pain relates to the effects of poor posture. In order to understand the impact of poor posture, we must first consider why spinal alignment within the neck is so important.
Coupled with the stresses and demands of modern life, it is no surprise why neck pain is so common. Your head weighs about 5 kilograms and, in normal alignment, it is very carefully balanced on top of your seven neck bones (vertebrae).
- Your muscles work very hard to maintain this position and easily withstand short periods of variation.
- Problems arise when we assume awkward positions for prolonged periods; the fine balance is disturbed and the nerves, muscles, joints, ligaments, and discs of your neck become strained and irritated.
- The tension in your neck and shoulder muscles doubles for every 2-3 centimetres when your head is forward. Over time, the neck strain and pressure accumulate to a point when it becomes chronic and even the smallest changes in posture cause significant consequences.
Other common causes of neck pain include whiplash, arthritis, and sporting injuries.