Our neck is one of the most important parts of the body. Its task is to support the head and protect the nerves that transmit sensory and motor information from the brain. Also, it is highly flexible and can turn and bend in all directions. The neck can do all this because it comprises the cervical vertebrae. The bones, ligaments, and muscles in the neck allow us to do all these things. So when there are any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury, this causes neck pain or stiffness.
Now, neck pain or stiffness is very common to most people. There are many causes of neck pain. In this article, we will talk about the causes of neck pain, its symptoms, and can neck massager help relieve neck pain.
Causes of Neck Pain
Most times, the reason or the causes of neck pain is poor posture or overuse or sleeping in an awkward position. Sometimes, neck pain is because of an injury from a fall, whiplash, or contact sports.
In most cases, neck pain is not a serious condition and can be relieved within a few days.
Muscle strain or tension is a common cause of neck pain. In most cases, everyday activities cause neck pain problems. Activities like these include:
- Sitting at a desk for hours at a time
- Watching TV or reading while having poor posture
- Positioning your computer monitor incorrectly
- Uncomfortable sleeping positions
- During exercise, twisting and turning the neck unnaturally
- Over lifting or poor posture when lifting
But there are times wherein it is a sign that something serious is going on and requires medical attention, for example, if your neck pain that continues for more than a week, is severe, or it comes with a combination of other symptoms like radiating pain, weakness or numbness.
Neck injuries caused by accidents or falls can include vertebral fractures, whiplash, blood vessel injuries, and even paralysis.
Other causes include:
- Medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia
- Cervical arthritis or spondylosis
- Ruptured disk
- Minor fractures to the spine from osteoporosis
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
- Infection of the spine (osteomyelitis, disks, abscess)
- Cancer that involves the spine
Things to Do if You Have Neck Pain
Neck pain doesn’t happen overnight. It usually evolves over time. Here are a few tips that we can do to relieve neck pain.
- Never stay in one position for a long time. If you move around or get up often enough, you will avoid getting your neck stuck in an unhealthy position.
- Make some adjustments. If you position your computer incorrectly, adjust it at an eye level so you can see easily. Use the hands-free function on your phone or wear a headset. Prop your tablet on a pillow so that it sits at a 45° angle, instead of lying flat on your lap.
- Keep your eyeglass prescription up to date. If you are wearing glasses that are not up to date, you will try to lean back to see clearly, causing your neck muscles to strain.
- Don’t use too many pillows. When you sleep and put your head over too many pillows, it can limit your neck’s range of motion.
- Stop lifting loads that are too heavy for you. You must know what you can and cannot do. If you are trying to lift a big chair across a room, try asking for help and not do it yourself alone. Think about what it can do to your neck and your back.
- Enjoy good massage therapy for your neck. Several studies have shown that massage therapy is an effective treatment for neck pain. The Annals of Internal Medicine reported that massage was more effective than acupuncture or self-care for treating neck pain. A study also found that massage therapy relieved tension headaches as effectively as aspirin.
Massage Therapy for Neck Pain
While there are many ways to relieve neck pain, massage therapy is considered one of the most effective and safest methods for relieving neck pain and stiffness. Massage can help release tension in the muscles and reduce inflammation. Also, it speeds up the healing process by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the affected area.
There are numerous types of massage that can help to massage your neck. Two of the most common massage types are as follows:
- Swedish massage is the most common type in Western culture. The technique usually involves long, steady strokes that follow the flow of blood to the heart. It is also possible to incorporate kneading and friction movements. In Swedish massage, the main goal is to promote relaxation throughout the body.
- A deep tissue massage usually works on deeper layers of muscles and connective tissues using deeper strokes and friction. Depending on the therapist’s opinions and philosophies, deep tissue massage can be referred to as connective tissue massage or connective tissue therapy. The focus of deep tissue massage is typically more on a chronic pain area.
- Trigger point massage focuses on the knots or specific areas of tightness (trigger points) in your muscles. It involves direct pressure on these points to release the tension and relieve pain. It is beneficial if you have muscle spasms and knots.
Benefits of Massage for Neck Pain
Since neck pain is a common concern for everybody. Let’s check out the benefits you can gain with massage therapy.
- Increase relaxation and reduce stress. It is possible for a person to relax both physically and mentally. Mental relaxation involves hormone levels that are negative and positive, whereas physical relaxation involves the musculoskeletal system. By relieving pain and increasing positive hormones, neck massages can increase relaxation.
- Improves tight muscles. A range of factors can cause muscle tightness, including poor posture, injury, and overuse. A neck massage creates friction, which increases blood flow. A rise in blood flow leads to an increase in muscle temperature. Muscle fibers loosen as temperature rises, allowing them to relax.
- Alleviates pain. It is possible to experience pain when muscles are tense. The build-up of tension can result in trigger points and knots in the muscles. Through neck massage, the body releases endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and reduce pain.
- Enhances mood. A neck massage is beneficial not only to the body but also to the mind. According to studies, massage greatly increases levels of dopamine and serotonin. When your body relaxes, so does your nervous system. Massage helps to realign your entire body by lowering your heart rate and breathing.