Did you suddenly discover some tension building up at the back of your neck after some relatively long hours of work? Have you found yourself stretching lately due to long hours hunched over the computer or smartphone? This is traceable to neck/cervical pain which is common among people who sit for long hours at a stretch especially in offices, shops and malls. Sudden jerking of the neck during exercise (whiplash) may also cause neck pain. This pain can range from mild to severe if you don’t seek help immediately. Here are 8 quick ways to relieve work-related neck pain and restore your health;
Cervical vertebrae in the neck connect to the skull. In the neck, there are structures like the skin, neck muscles, arteries, veins, lymph nodes, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, oesophagus, larynx, and trachea. Neck pain can also be associated with a headache, facial pain, shoulder pain, arm numbness or tingling (upper extremity paresthesia).
Practice good posture
It is important to maintain good working posture all time. Achieve this by using the right furniture at work and at home. You must ensure comfortability each time you sit by resting your back well. You can also go for a chair with an arm and head rest. This is to ensure you evenly distribute all the weight of the body. You should also place your feet firmly on the floor. Avoid reading on the bed and working on a desk for too long without changing position. Do not crimp the phone between your neck and shoulder as this is a common habit which you should check. Do not fall asleep sitting up in a chair because very often you wake with your head tilted way back or your chin to your chest. You should replace these habits with neck healthy ones because they can lead to neck stiffness/pain.
- Avoid lifting heavy weight:The neck is very vulnerable to injury. When you do certain activities such as lifting of heavy weights, it can cause the neck to move out of its normal motion range. This causes the muscles of the neck to strain leading to pain. The neck, back or hand muscles are used when you lift heavy weight and can strain if put under pressure. The neck muscles, bones and ligament are important as they give support and movement to the head. Any abnormality or injury can lead to neck pain /stiffness.
Constant stretching after long hours on the computer or smartphone will relieve tension build up at the back of the neck. Moderate exercises are encouraged not those associated with jerking movement as this can lead to dislocation of vertebra bones of the neck. Stretching after long working hours on desk can help relieve pain. You can do ranges of motion exercises and isometric exercises to relieve pain in the neck. Range of motion exercises is done by moving your neck slightly to the left shoulder after which you hold and return the head to the centre, the same is repeated for the right side of the head as well as the chin which can be gently tilted up and down. This session can be repeated 5 times in every 3 sessions. Isometric exercises are performed without moving the head. This can be performed routinely by holding the right palm against the forehead and slightly tilting the head into palm without moving the head itself. Same can be done to the left side and the back of the head.
Heat and cold therapy
This involves applying heat to the neck muscles to reduce pain. The heat applied promotes circulation which relieves the stiffness of the neck. Hot warm bottles can be put at the back of the neck to relieve pain but only for a short period as much heat can worsen the pain. This can also be alternated with the use of cold packs or ice wrapped towels to numb the pain and reduce the inflammation of the neck.
Work related neck pain occurs majorly due to accumulated stress and emotional breakdown. This causes tension to build up in various parts of the body most especially the neck. It is advisable to pay attention to the stress you expose yourself to daily. Identify the stressors and manage them effectively by practising deep breathing techniques. This involves taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly. You can do this for several minutes. You can use soft pillows and firm mattresses for good neck elevation. Pillows made of feathers or crushed foam pillows rather than solid foam pillows can help to reduce tension build up on the neck muscles.
You can predict the outcome of a good massage on the neck. A good massage with effective circular and random firm strokes gives you the relief you desire. It gives temporary relief and aids better sleep. A warm bath taken can give an added relief to the pain you feel. Applying oils and mild lotions can ease the pain. Massaging technique has been an effective tool to ease pain.
Working at eye level
To prevent neck strain and discomfort, it is important to reduce bending the neck for long periods or reaching up to work. Get tables and chairs that reduce neck strain and promote comfortability. Use an upward stand to raise reading materials at work place. This is common among people who hunch on their laptops and smartphones for a long period. Use your phones at eye level and place computers on a good desk with a chair where your back can rest well. Get raised platforms for easy viewing at eye level. This will ease the tension at the back of the neck.
If you are still experiencing pain after the above pain relief measures, it is advisable to get some medication to help ease the pain further. Some over the counter drugs such as Aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help to relieve the pain. However, if you have stomach ulcer or any allergy to any drugs, it is advisable to use a mild analgesic such as acetaminophen. Mild sedatives and muscle relaxants like diazepam and orphenadrine relax painful muscle spasm. However, If pain persists, please see a doctor.