As a lawyer on the front lines of representing victims injured in personal injuries and car accidents, I can tell you that people’s lives are often severely impacted by wounds and contusions. The most common ones are in the neck and shoulder area. Coming into contact with countless injured people and medical staff, I have come to understand the most common causes of neck pain and what would be the most effective way to treat them. Outlined below are five of the most common neck injuries and their remedies.
1. Neck pain resulting from a serious accident
Even though you should never start your car without fastening your seatbelt, this measure does not completely guarantee that you will not get injured. In many car crashes, especially when someone is rear-ended, people experience something named whiplash. This means that when you are propelled forward, but stopped by the seatbelt, your head jerks abruptly backward and forwards.
Because of this shock, your joints and disks can be damaged. Because of the rush of adrenaline and the time the injury takes to kick in, symptoms of whiplash can be delayed for even 24 hours. The symptoms include, but are not limited to neck pain, neck stiffness, shoulder pain, numbness or pain in the hands and back pain.
If you have been in a car accident and suffered neck pain from whiplash, you must seek help from a specialized doctor. The treatments can vary, depending on how severe the injury is. Usually, you will have to take some pain relief medication or anti-inflammatory pills, like aspirin, and you will have to receive some physical therapy and massages. Applying ice packs or heat to the afflicted zone has also been known to help ease the pain.
2. Neck pain resulting from inactivity
Because of our jobs, our hobbies or even the way we take our breaks at work, we spend most of our days sitting. Recent years have seen a massive drop in the number of people getting enough physical activity. Instead of talking walks or playing sports, people prefer to watch movies or play video games.
Constant breaks from any cardiovascular exercise can lead to an atrophy of the muscles and joints, especially in the neck and back areas. This problem could be easily fixed by taking some time off each week to increase your heart rate. Doctors suggest that 30 minutes of exercise per day, or 210 minutes per week, should be more than enough to keep your heart, muscles, and joints healthy and alleviate neck and back pain.
Another factor to take into consideration is bad posture. When working on a computer, we usually slouch our backs and push our shoulders forward. This strains the vertebrae as they are put in an unnatural position. The best way to correct your posture and eliminate neck pain is to stand as straight as possible. Try to keep your computer or your TV at eye level, and to stay with your feet planted on the ground. It is also advised to take a short break every couple of hours and walk around your home or office. If this can’t be done, at least change your body position every 20 minutes to avoid putting too much pressure on a specific spot.
3. Neck pain resulting from a sports injury
You must be very careful when you exercise, as you can injure yourself. Not only can others accidentally hurt you, but you can very easily injure yourself.
Imagine that your body is a piece of steak. Without any physical activity, you are raw, your muscle fibers will not change. When you exercise correctly, you have a perfectly done steak, it looks and tastes good. However, if you train improperly or you overtrain, you have a burnt piece of meat, it is damaged, and it cannot be eaten. You can seriously harm your body, and the most common injuries are in the neck and back.
It is paramount that you know if you’re pushing too hard and to see if you have weak spots. Pain isn’t always good in the gym. It may be a signal of alarm. The best way to make sure you won’t damage your muscle tissues and your joints are by consulting a personal trainer. Find out what exercises you can and can’t do (some of them can help ease the pain while others will only enhance it) and find out the correct way to exercise.
4. Neck pain resulting from stress
Too few of us can say that we live a stress-free life. Life can throw different obstacles at us, and this can take its toll not only psychologically but also physically. When under extreme stress, people usually tense up their muscles in their shoulders and neck. Even locking up your jaw and grinding your teeth can have repercussions on your spine. You can wear out your vertebra and also damage your nerves.
If you’re having neck pain because of a busy or stressful lifestyle, the best way to get rid of it is to take some time off for yourself and relax. People usually start meditation or yoga. These mental and physical exercises tend to release the tension in the muscles and allow for better healing. If this doesn’t appeal to you, you can also try lightly stretching your neck once in a while or getting a massage.
5. Neck pain resulting from a lifetime of minor bad decisions
Neck pain or injuries don’t result only from accidents. Every little decision we make in our everyday lives can have a significant impact on the line. If people are careful and conscious of their actions, many forms of injuries, especially in the neck area, can be avoided. This is a list of common mistakes and how to fix them:
- Bad sleeping positions: By sleeping on your stomach, or by keeping your neck in weird positions, you can severely damage your spine and nerve endings. You should try mostly sleeping on your back, or on your sides, and to make sure that your pillow is not too fluffed or too flat. Try to keep your neck in a neutral, straight position.
- Carrying heavy bags: By making your briefcase or handbag too heavy, it would put stress on your back, shoulders, and neck, and could cause injury. The best course of action is to try and reduce the amount you carry and make your loads lighter. Or you should use a backpack instead. Even though this is not optimal, at least it should spread the weight evenly on your shoulders.
- Awkward neck positions in sports: By playing contact sports, like football or hockey, you run the risk of severely injuring your neck. As these are more violent than other games, players usually tackle or slam into each other, and this can, in turn, bend your neck in weird positions, similar to whiplash. You should always wear protective gear, play fair and safe or switch to a more relaxing sport, like swimming.
- Using your phone too much: Even though they have become so integral in our everyday lives, smartphones have been linked to neck and back injuries. Putting your body in awkward positions, like keeping your phone between your head and shoulder, or by texting for an extended period while looking down on your phone, you put a lot of pressure on your tendons and bones. The best advice would be to take regular breaks and enjoy the real world, not only the virtual one.
Neck pain and injuries are widespread. You can either get them from an accident, playing sport, carelessness or even just by sleeping in a bad position. With this said, neck pain should not be the norm. Anyone can take the necessary steps and precautions and pay more attention to their everyday lives so that they can be pain and stress-free in the future.
About The Author:
John M. O’Brien is a passionate attorney with more than 20 years of experience in personal injury, auto accidents, defective products, nursing home abuse, and wrongful death law. He is the founder and principal attorney at O’Brien & Zehnder Law Firm, where he provides critical trial expertise in all cases.