Neck and Shoulder Pain – A Basic Overview
Neck and shoulder pain can have many causes. The neck is made of complex overlapping layers of bone and muscle, on top of which sits a head that weighs 9-12 pounds.
Continuing neck and shoulder pain could be the symptom of a serious illness. Report neck and shoulder pain to an experienced healthcare provider for advice.
Neck and Shoulder Pain Causes
- Posture: It’s easy for the muscles of the neck to become strained from bad posture or lack of movement, causing a pain called cervicalgia. Cervicalgia causes pain and stiffness in the neck and can interfere with full range of motion, such as turning the head.
- Injury: The neck can also be injured in sports or by a “whiplash” incident, which often happens when a car is hit from behind, throwing the head forward at impact and snapping it back when the vehicle stops.
- Repetitive stress: The shoulder is an equally complex structure comprised of the bones at the top of the arm and the scapula (or “shoulder blade”), a free-floating bone to which many muscles attach. The long lever of the arm can put great stress on the structures of the shoulder in case of an accident, but most shoulder injuries are due to repetitive stresses of using the arms in daily living.
- Computers: People who spend many hours a day seated in front of a computer often complain or both neck and shoulder pain, caused by muscle immobility and work stations that encourage poor posture.
Neck and Shoulder Pain in Women
Neck and shoulder pain in women often has one of three causes:
- Handbags. If you carry a purse, it should not weigh more than 10 pounds fully loaded; the lighter the weight, the easier it will be on your neck and shoulders. Ideally, you should carry a cross-body style purse that loops over your head, to help distribute the weight. Backpacks with two straps also can help you distribute weight more evenly across your shoulders. If you are recovering from a neck or shoulder injury, you might want to use a waist pack while you heal.
- Breasts. Breast weight tends to pull the top of a woman’s body forward and down, unbalancing posture and possibly leading to neck and shoulder pain. A properly fitted, supportive bra with a wide, snug band and wide, padded straps may help relieve neck and shoulder pain. Many women’s clothing stores offer free, professional bra fittings, and many women who get these fittings discover that they’ve been wearing the wrong size bra. A sturdy bra is especially important if you wear a C cup of larger and if you participate in running or other sports.
- Babies. Neck and shoulder pain can also be the result of carrying a baby or toddler for long periods of time. If you need to carry a child who weighs more than 20 pounds, consider a backpack with a frame. To carry or hold a toddler for short periods of time, use both arms and hold the child high and close to your body.
Neck and Shoulder Pain Treatments
The starting point for neck and shoulder pain treatment is a medical examination to ensure there is no underlying medical problem such as arthritis affecting the joints. If you are healthy, or if you have the permission of your healthcare provider, the next step is to adjust your work station.
When you work at a computer, your body should be in this position:
- Top of the monitor screen at eye level and about 18 inches (or more) straight ahead of you
- Forearms parallel to the floor while typing, which usually means the keyboard is at the level of your waist
- Wrists level while typing, with weight of hand resting on your palms, not your wrists
- Thighs parallel to the floor
- Feet flat on the floor or a foot rest.
Neck and shoulder pain may be alerting you that you’re spending too much time in one position. To remedy this, get up and stretch about once every hour. Shrug your shoulders, look over your shoulder, and bend your head gently sideways, as if to touch your ear to your shoulder. Standing up straight, try to make your elbows touch each other behind your back. Try not to work at a computer for more than 8 hours in a 24-hour period.
The information on this site it intended for general inquiry and informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you, or those under your care, are ill or in need of health care, please seek immediate medical attention. Always consult a doctor or other competent licensed clinical for specific advice about medical treatments for yourself or those under your care. Any use of, or reliance in any way upon, the information contained in the AlternativZ site and/or accessed through this site is solely at your own risk.
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