Neck muscle pain is a common problem and can become debilitating if not treated properly. There are many potential causes of pain involving the muscles of the neck, including stress, muscle strains, and nerve compression. Treatment options for neck muscle pain are as varied as the causes of the pain, but may include heat or ice therapy, medications, or physical therapy. Making simple lifestyle changes such as improving posture or changing the type of mattress or pillows used when sleeping can sometimes be beneficial as well.
Stress is a major cause of neck muscle pain. Worry and fear concerning everyday events can cause the muscles of the neck to become tense and tight. This often leads to significant neck pain as well as headaches. Learning relaxation techniques or yoga can often lessen everyday stresses and relieve neck pain. Taking frequent short breaks throughout the day in order to relax and stretch the neck muscles may help as well.
Muscle strains are a common cause of neck muscle pain. This can be caused by overusing the muscles or practicing improper posture, such as leaning the head forward too much while performing activities such as reading or driving. Teeth grinding can cause the muscles of the neck to become strained as well. Applying ice to the sore muscles can often help to relieve the pain as well. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen may help to ease the pain and inflammation of overworked muscles.
Nerve compression is often responsible for neck muscle pain. If the discs of the upper part of the spine become damaged, the surrounding nerves can be compressed, or pinched. This often causes the nearby muscles to become inflamed, leading to sharp, shooting pains in the neck. A chiropractor can often adjust the spine, thereby relieving the pressure and swelling causing the neck muscle pain.
An improper sleeping position is another common cause of neck muscle pain. The ideal position for sleeping is lying flat on the back with a pillow or two placed under the knees to assist in proper spinal alignment. A special pillow, known as a cervical traction neck pillow, can help to hold the neck in the optimum position for sleep. This sleep position causes the least amount of stress to the upper portion of the spine, and many patients have reported significant improvements in the amount of neck muscle pain after learning to sleep in this position.