Primary Causes of Chronic Neck Pain

Neck Pain

Chronic neck pain can be debilitating to those who experience stiffness and pain that can make even the simplest task of turning your head impossible. The neck is an intricate set of vertebrae, muscles and nerves tasked with the important job of keeping your head supported and upright. This close relationship between the head and neck often means that pain in one area radiates to pain in the other. Panther Physical Therapy can help you understand some of the primary causes of chronic neck pain and what you may be able to do about it.

Degenerative disc disease

The vertebrae in the neck are cushioned and supported by fluid-filled discs that sit between each vertebra. As we age, these discs can shrink and become less effective in acting as the shock absorbers in the neck. This causes extra friction between the vertebrae and increases inflammation. This can also limit range of motion and increase stiffness. In severe cases, degenerative disc disease can cause:

  • Herniated or slipped discs
  • Pinched nerves that can cause tingling, weakness and numbness
  • Chronic headaches

Forward head position

In the age of technology, many people sit hunched over glued to a computer screen. Even when people take a break from the screen to get up, they are constantly checking their smartphones, which also puts the head in a forward position. The problem with this position is that is not the natural alignment of the vertebrae in the neck. This put intense pressure on the muscles and nerves in the neck, which can alter the alignment of the neck forward over time.

The easiest way to tell if you have a forward head position is to stand with your back to a wall and take note of how far away your head is from the wall. The further from the wall your head is, the more likely you experience some kind of chronic neck pain and headaches.

What you can do to help treat chronic neck pain

Making ergonomic changes, such as using a standing desk, can help reduce the amount of time you spend hunched over. Ideally, the screen should be above eye level so your head naturally comes to its upright position by looking up slightly. Sleeping with an ergonomic pillow can also put your neck in proper alignment while you sleep. 

Many patients find relief from their chronic neck pain through physical therapy. The physical therapists of Panther Physical Therapy offer individualized treatment programs that can help reduce stiffness, strengthen the muscles in the neck and increase range of motion. 

If you are considering treatment for your chronic neck pain, contact one of our patient coordinators to set up your initial appointment and answer any questions you may have.