Neck pain is a common problem that affects up to 15% of people in the United States, according to Spine-Health. If you’re experiencing neck pain, do you know what’s causing it? Here are 5 possibilities.
1. Your Smartphone
The term “text neck” wasn’t coined for nothing -- bending your head forward to look down at your smartphone for extended periods of time can cause the muscles in your neck and the back of your head to ache.
2. Your Computer
Just like your phone, if your computer isn’t at eye-level and you need to tilt your chin down or up to see the screen, it could be contributing to your neck pain. Make sure your computer monitor is at eye level and when working, your chin is at roughly a 90-degree angle.
3. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) and Bruxism
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, is a disorder of the jaw that can cause teeth grinding. This is known as bruxism and often happens at night when you sleep. People with TMJ will clench their jaw or grind their teeth without realizing it, causing headaches, jaw, and neck pain.
According to Rush University Medical Center, up to two million Americans suffer whiplash every year. While this is largely caused by motor vehicle accidents, it can also result from falls, high-impact sports, amusement park rides, and any other activity that causes the head to whip back and forth.
This causes the delicate muscles and tendons in the neck to quickly overextend beyond their capacity and back again, leading to severe pain and reduced movement of the neck. Over time, the majority of whiplash cases resolve but in some cases, the resulting neck pain can become chronic.
5. Your Pillow
Surprisingly, your pillow can be a significant contributor -- or even the direct cause of -- your neck pain. Many standard pillows aren’t built to support the unique curvature of the cervical spine. A square of fluff can’t possibly mold to fit the curve of your neck, leaving you with space between your neck and the pillow.
This causes your neck to have to use its own muscles to hold your head up while asleep when they need a chance to relax. If you wake up with a stiff neck often, this is most likely what is happening. Choose a pillow or neck roll that is specifically designed to support the cervical spine from the base of the head to the top of the shoulders.
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