Neck and Shoulder Pain: The Secret Causes You May Not Be Aware Of!

Neck and shoulder pain may be the most common ailment faced by most people these days. That having been said, it is often the most mysterious, too. Pinpointing the exact cause for shoulder or neck problems is particularly tricky, and the underlying cause of the pain may be due to many differing factors. In this post, we take a look at not only what causes shoulder and neck pain, but also how we can prevent and heal that pain, right now.

The 21st century goes hand-in-hand with the astronomical rise of technology. Nowadays, tablets, cellphones, TV’s, computers, and even smart-watches dominate our daily lives. We are accompanied by our cellphone wherever we go, our emails are sure to follow, and we – more often than not – end the day lounging in front of the TV. Here’s the problem, though: all this tech is actually having a damaging effect on your shoulder and neck health. Why? Well, looking down at our phones, arching our necks at the TV screen, trying desperately to avoid the glare on our tablet screens – these all add up. Our muscles are stretched and moved in peculiar ways, all of which take their toll on the joints. We ache and experience pain a lot more frequently as we increasingly handle our technological devices incorrectly.

In addition to the rise of technology, we have also lost valuable time connecting with our bodies. Most people don’t really stretch, nor do they do much activity. We have become a sedentary nation, for the most part, and our necks and shoulders tell that story. As a people, we just aren’t moving our muscles and joints enough, and the aches and pains you may be experiencing in your neck and shoulders may well be the result of a lack of activity.

It is also important to mention diet: what are you eating on a daily basis? Diets filled with fatty foods, or an overload of simple carbohydrates, or even diets that just aren’t balanced and don’t provide the nutrients your body needs, will directly affect your health. Your neck and shoulders will ache if you aren’t feeding yourself the right anti-inflammatory foods, for example.

It is clear, then, that while we’re living in a time defined by a technological rat-race, we need to take a step back and make some serious changes. Your neck and shoulder health may well be directly related to the everyday habits you’ve forged together with technology, diet, and lifestyle. Luckily, we have a couple of ways you can start making changes, right now. Take a look:

1.   Watch your PC and phone posture. What is your posture like when you use your computer? Do you have a desktop or laptop? These are very serious considerations when it comes to neck and/or shoulder pain. If you’re using a desktop, make sure your screen is in alignment with your eyes, thereby avoiding forward head movements and incorrect posture which could lead to pain. If, on the other hand, you’re using a laptop, avoid lying down when you’re typing or watching Netflix. This particular posture forces your head forward, thereby placing immense pressure on your neck muscles as they are pushed into an unnatural position. Rather, use a desk if you can. And try to limit the time you sit in front of your PC to chunks of around 20 minutes. In addition, make sure that your phone posture is monitored. Never stoop, and always try to keep your phone at eye level with your neck and spine aligned. Always stretch after using technologies like these for long durations of time.

2.   Sleeping habits. The way you sleep often directly affects the muscles in your shoulders and neck. Incorrect sleeping habits are one of the biggest culprits in shoulder and neck pain. Sleeping with too many pillows places stress on your neck muscles and actually puts your back and neck out of alignment, causing pain. Try sleeping with a pillow that evenly aligns your spine with your neck. It may take some getting used to, but it’s worth it. Also, sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees is incredibly effective for relieving neck and shoulder pain. Why? Because stress is no longer placed on those two areas, and the weight of the body is evenly distributed along the spine and legs. Try doing this and we’re sure you’ll see fantastic changes.

3.  Even distribution of weight. Without knowing it, many of us carry our handbags on one side of our body. What about shopping bags? Maybe even our trusty laptop bag. When we carry weight on one side of our bodies the other overcompensates, thereby leading to pain in our shoulders and necks. It’s very important that weight is distributed evenly. Try carry shopping bags equally on both sides of the body or switching the side you carry your bags on. This is an absolutely vital step in your journey towards a pain-free life.

4.   Diet matters. Be aware of the types of food you’re eating – whether it be fast food, fatty foods, sugary foods, or even salty foods – cutting down on the types of low-nutrient meals you consume will greatly benefit in relieving pain. Try introducing more seeds, berries, and other anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. Dark, leafy greens, broccoli, eggplant, and sweet potatoes are fantastic additions to your meals. Give it a go – the results will surprise you.

5.  Exercise. Moving your body is one of the best ways of getting rid of your neck and shoulder pain. Stretch, move, exercise, and incorporate as much activity as you can – the key to health is to move!

So, there you have it: some tips to get rid of your back and shoulder pain, today. The truth is, chronic neck and shoulder pain can be debilitating – we understand that it might be getting you down. We’d love to help. Physical therapy is the most effective way of tackling your neck and shoulder pain head-on. We offer a unique opportunity for you to come in, talk to one of our professional physical therapists, create a plan, and be given options to fix your neck and shoulder pain…all for free! Just give us a call at (703) 650-8824 or fill out a form here and we will set up a time for you to come down. Don’t let neck and shoulder pain ruin one more day of your life – try our tips today!

Dr. Jamie So

Jamie So, PT, DPT, is the owner and physical therapist of Manual Therapy Effects.


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