Owing to the hectic lives people lead these days, there has been an increase in people across all age groups experiencing body pain, especially in the neck and back area. This makes it essential for every individual to prioritise their physical health and stop ignoring initial symptoms which help determine the main cause of the pain and accordingly search for suitable remedy.
Dr Satyen Mehta, spine consultant at H.E.A.L Institute (a specialist in physiotherapy and sports massages) shares few causes of neck and shoulder pain commonly experienced by people, and also suggests a exercises that can help bring relief.
There are various reasons that can cause neck and shoulder pain. But a common cause is degenerative disk disease which is caused due to dry outs and cracks in the spine. The disks of the spine comprise water which tends to decrease with an increase in the person’s age. In this situation, the person is likely to lose the soft cushion between the vertebrae and spine, which can lead to several other spinal problems.
On the other hand, cracks can also form due to minor injuries and day-to-day movements which result in tears of the nerves in the outer wall. Pain when you sit, move or walk, pain in lower back, upper thighs, buttocks or when you switch positions are some common symptoms for this condition.
There is a soft padding of round and flat disc in the spine, which has a tough outer layer protecting the jelly-like material commonly known as the nucleus. They are present in each vertebra of the spinal column disc and carry out the function of shock absorbers for the spinal bones.
When a part of the disc nucleus gets pushed out of the annulus into the spinal canal, mostly due to tear or break in the annulus, it is termed as herniated disc. This can also be considered to be the initial stage of degeneration as this may produce pain in the spinal cord in the near future.
An injury or excessive strain can be a major cause of getting a herniated disc. Sharp pain in the neck or numbness in the shoulder are key symptoms of this condition.
When surrounding tissues like tendons, cartilage, bones and muscles put excessive pressure on the nerve it is likely to strain the nerve. This strain often results in pain, weakness, slight tingling or numbness.
Regular numbness in the nerve area due to the nerve and/or muscle weakness is a significant sign of nerve compression. Stiffening of spine on regular basis, obesity, injury, and arthritis are reasons why tissues compress a nerve.
A simple infection can also cause excruciating nerve pain. Neck pain can be caused due to strep throat infection which usually affects the front side of the neck. One also experiences neck pain if the meningitis gets infected or swollen which is commonly referred to as meninges. This thin tissue envelops the spinal cord and the brain and hence it is very important not to ignore symptoms like severe headache on a regular basis, sudden fever and stiff painful neck.
Swollen neck lymph, fatigue, sore throat, weakness, loss of appetite and night sweats are few other signs which you should be mindful of. However, it is difficult for an individual to determine these signs as they can be for viral fever. But, in order to get clarity one must approach a specialist if the symptoms last for longer duration.
In order to avoid neck and shoulder pain you must keep note of minute yet essential actions such as your posture while working, driving or doing other chores. For instance, it is important to keep the monitor at eye level on your desk so that you do not strain your neck and back while working.
Also, do not ignore your sleep position because one must sleep either on their back or on the side. Sleeping on stomach is unhealthy as your stomach sinks into the bed and also your lower back does not get support.
If you experience continuous neck and shoulder pain then it is wise to get in touch with a spine specialist. They can diagnose you properly with the help of MRI, CT scan, and, accordingly suggest a remedy.
Apart from this, there are some special exercises which help you to release neck and shoulder pain. These include:
The first step is to sit in a comfortable kneeling position, with the hands to your sides. Now to inhale and lift your shoulders up to your ears. And, then exhale simultaneously bringing your shoulders back to their original position. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
This helps strengthen muscles of your upper back.
Sit in a kneeling position with hands by the sides. Slowly start inhaling and exhaling, while exhaling lower your left ear towards your left shoulder, then take it towards your chin. Then gently move towards your right shoulder such that your right ear touches your right shoulder. Once you are done with one complete circle, repeat the process in reverse direction.
This exercise helps you to focus on your breathing and releases neck pressure.
Stand in upright position at the corner of a room and put your hands on each side of the wall. Inhale and exhale slowly and simultaneously lean forward. While you lean, hold on for a minute and then return back to your original position.
This exercise helps you to release tension in the back muscles.