By Mary Curtis McCracken, PT, MPT, MEd
Do you have neck pain, particularly after a long day? You are not alone! A good portion of the American population will suffer from neck pain that interferes with normal daily activities. So what can be done to prevent and manage neck pain?
Stress management - Stress can cause muscle tension in the upper back and neck, leading to pain and potentially headaches. Taking breaks throughout the day from a static position at the computer or desk, decreasing screen time, taking walks/exercising/yoga, and finding time for yourself will all decrease stress.
Practice good posture - Pay attention to your sitting positions throughout the day. Place both feet on the floor, make sure your back is supported by the chairback or place a pillow for support, keep hips aligned higher than your knees, place the computer monitor in the correct position, and decrease looking down at a phone for long periods of time.
Perform postural exercises - There are several exercises that can be performed to decrease or prevent neck pain. A physical therapist (PT) can help guide you through the specifics of these exercises and help identify any deficits in form.
Manual techniques - Soft tissue mobilization/massage and joint mobilizations can be beneficial to decrease pain. Licensed physical therapists are trained to perform these techniques.
Heat/ice - Moist heat and ice packs can also be used to decrease pain. Therapeutic treatment usually requires a minimum of at least 15 minutes in order to be effective. Use ice with acute injury and heat or ice for more chronic pain.
These are basic tips to help prevent and manage neck pain. If you are having severe neck pain, have had a recent injury, or are having numbness/tingling in arms/hands then you should be evaluated by a physician.
Mary Curtis McCracken PT, MPT, MED