Neck pain risk factors — how to minimize them
Neck pain is something nearly everyone experiences at some point. However, there are certain behaviors and actions that can be avoided, limiting the chance of a person developing chronic neck pain. While neck pain is not always avoidable, knowing these risk factors can reduce your chance of chronic neck pain and potentially increase your overall health and well-being.
Avoiding neck pain risk factors
A number of conditions, ranging from repetitive motion strain to disc- or joint-related spine conditions that cause painful nerve compression, can cause neck pain. Many of these causes are related to everyday wear and deterioration from the natural aging process. The neck, or cervical spine, is especially vulnerable because of the weight it must support while remaining flexible. That’s why everyone can be subjected to some amount of neck pain throughout their lives.
However, there are certain neck pain risk factors that can be avoided by being aware of them and making the necessary lifestyle adjustments. These behaviors include:
- Exercising correctly. Strengthening your neck during workouts can help you overcome neck pain and avoid future injury. Proper technique without overexerting yourself is crucial to avoiding potential injuries.
- Stretching. Proper stretching is absolutely essential before any workout and is also beneficial on its own. Stretching classes, like yoga or Pilates, can help strengthen the neck.
- Quitting smoking. Smoking decreases bone density and dries out connective tissue such as ligaments and the spinal discs, increasing the chance of injury later in life.
- Maintaining a healthy weight and diet. Excess weight puts undue stress on the spine, which can develop into spine conditions such as bulging discs. Good nutrition supports health in the neck and throughout the body.
- Practicing good posture. Having good posture and alignment can take pressure off the spine, potentially helping to avoid neck pain. This includes sitting, standing and sleeping.
- Avoiding repetitive activities. Excessive bending, twisting or lifting can increase wear and tear on the spine and lead to neck pain. If it is not possible to avoid repetitive activities, stretch properly and take frequent breaks.
Treatment for neck pain
If you have neck pain despite your best efforts to avoid these risk factors, there are numerous treatment options to consider. The first step should always be consulting your primary care doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
In many cases, mild neck pain can be relieved with a steady course of rest, exercise, heat therapy, over-the-counter medication and other conservative treatments. Surgery is usually a last-resort option because traditional open spine procedures require a large incision that severs muscles, resulting in hospitalization and a long, sometimes difficult, recovery period.
If a full course of conservative treatment has not brought lasting relief and you are considering surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery, offering an outpatient procedure with a shorter recovery time^ for our patients.
See if you’re a potential candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient procedures by getting in touch with our team and asking for your free MRI review.*