Lower neck pain can be caused by something as simple as poor posture or as complex as a herniated disc or arthritis. Depending on its severity, lower neck pain can be treated with anything from simple stretches to medication and even surgery, and in all cases, a proper diagnosis from a doctor is necessary to effectively treat the pain. Lower neck pain is common in people who sit for long periods of time, and the pain can be alleviated by improving posture or by sitting in an ergonomic chair that supports the back and neck. More serious pain due to spinal issues must be treated by a doctor.
A lack of adequate spinal support can lead to lower neck pain, as can sitting at a computer or a desk for too long. Many people tend to drop their heads as they read off a computer screen, meaning the muscles in the lower neck are placed under strain. Prolonged periods in this position can lead to soreness, tenderness, and limited mobility. An ergonomic chair can help prevent such undue strain on the muscles of the back and neck, and better posture is promoted by supporting the lower back, neck, and shoulders.
Arthritis is perhaps one of the most common causes of lower neck pain behind poor posture. Arthritis occurs mostly in middle aged to elderly men and women, though it can occur in younger people as well. Osteoarthritis is most common; this is a condition in which the joints in the neck become inflamed due to wearing and tearing of ligaments and muscle tissue. As the ligaments wear, the bones in the joints can rub against each other, causing moderate to severe pain. It is considered degenerative, which means the condition worsens over time. Some types of arthritis can be treated with medication and physical therapy.
Other more serious conditions that may lead to lower back pain include cervical foraminal stenosis, which occurs when the space between discs in the spine narrow. This can cause a disc to become herniated — which occurs when the gel between discs leaks into the spinal canal, putting pressure on nerves — and intense pain throughout the spine may be felt. Such conditions can be treated with physical therapy, and more severe cases may necessitate surgical intervention.
Spinal compression due to everyday effects of gravity can also lead to lower neck pain as well as pain throughout the back. Regular stretching and exercise can help alleviate such pain, as can an inversion table, which allows a user to flip one's body upside down on a specially designed table. The user hangs from his or her ankle, thereby allowing the spine to decompress.