Neck pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders, affecting 27 per 1000 people on average. According to research published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, there are several risk factors that can exacerbate neck pain. In particular, aging is the most important risk factor for most chronic pain, as the normal anatomy of the cervical spine changes at advanced ages.
While the studies show us that there is no definitive treatment for neck pain, there are ways that we can ease the severity of pain by targeting the causes behind it. Keep reading for a closer look.
Causes of neck pain
Common causes of neck pain include muscle strain from overuse or worn joints that worsen with age. In some cases, persistent neck pain has a specific cause, such as a damaged facet joint or disc that stems from injury or the growth of masses, including tumors and cysts. Here, the pain only becomes aggravated by factors such as bad posture, smoking, or obesity.
Treatment of neck pain
Strained muscles in the neck can be addressed with specific massages that target the restrictions and trigger points in the structural tissue around your neck. Often called the ‘slow fix’, self-help myofascial release progressively helps your body release and rebalance through a series of stretches and deliberately-induced pressure. Neck stretches, where you turn and drop your head to one side, can help ease you in. It is especially key, however, that one first uses heat therapy to coax the muscles in the neck to loosen up before treatment.
The usage of massage tools such as our inflatable myofascial balls can additionally be used to ease the body into the massage treatment. Myofascial balls or trigger point balls can be lied on or leaned against for 90 - 120 seconds to allow time for the muscles to release. This can be done by placing two inflatable myofascial balls in a bag, lying flat on the floor or bed, and positioning the bag under your neck so that your spine is between the balls.
Medical intervention becomes necessary when neck pain worsens or persists after several weeks of self-care. This could be a sign of a more serious problem, such as damaged muscles, ligaments, disks, vertebral joints, or nerve roots in your spinal cord, or even a sign of other health conditions such as meningitis or rheumatoid arthritis. In these cases, it's important to address these underlying causes first.
Prevention of neck pain
According to the research from BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, the most commonly reported risk factor for neck pain was working in awkward postures. This is critical information, considering how the latest data from Pew Research Center tells us that the adoption of key technologies by elderly people has grown markedly in the last decade. 61% of those aged 65 and older use a smartphone — and prolonged smartphone usage according to research published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science can lead to poorer posture.
Interventions are important to accommodate these lifestyle choices. Investing in ergonomic accessories that reduce neck pain can help. Having an adjustable tablet mount, for example, adjusts your tablet at an angle so that users do not have to hunch over and lean in to get a better view of the screen. Users can instead focus on maintaining a relaxed and straight spinal curve.
Otherwise, investing in ergonomic furniture such as an ergonomic mattress can help older people sleep better and rest strained neck muscles. The orthopedic mattress from Nectar, for example, makes use of medium-firm memory foam so that the spine remains aligned with gentle pressure during sleep. 90% of their customers already say that their mattress helps with overall aches, including neck pain. Otherwise, a lack of proper sleep has also been shown to lead to increased inflammation, and better sleep quality brought along by a more comfortable mattress could lead to less discomfort.
Early prevention and treatment are key to addressing neck pain. If you are struggling with neck pain, get started with our Neck Pain Relief Program where we determine the direct causes of your neck pain and the best ways to address them. By becoming proactive with treatment, you’ll be able to enjoy your ache-free senior years.
Written exclusively for Bobandbrad.com
by Agatha Cameron