A pulled neck muscle isn’t something to ignore.
Pulled Neck Muscle Causes
Neck pain or a stiff neck might be caused by the neck muscles being in an uncomfortable position. Neck and shoulder pain could be a result of poor posture when driving or working at a computer, or even from holding a phone between the ear and neck. Sleeping in an awkward position can also lead to a pulled back muscle and neck strain. Carrying heavy objects on one side of the body may trigger muscle pain as well. The most serious cause of cervical strain is a trauma, such as whiplash.1 Whiplash symptoms include neck stiffness and pain, worsening pain while moving the neck, range of motion loss, headaches, pain in the upper back, arms, or shoulder, numbness or tingling in the arms, dizziness, or fatigue. Some patients might also develop tinnitus (ear ringing), blurred vision, irritability, sleep and concentration troubles, and depression and memory issues.2 Aside from injuries to the neck, sometimes just aging and degenerative disorders can lead to cervical problems, such as spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or osteoarthritis. Additionally, weak muscles in the abdomen, obesity, and poor posture, as well as stress and emotional disturbances could also cause physical discomfort.3
Neck Pain Relief
Chiropractors offer conservative treatment for many kinds of cervical pain. They test for range of motion, physical condition, and posture, and they also perform physical or neurological exams. Chiropractors will ask questions about the source of the pain, such as how it began, what treatments have been sought, what worsens the issue, and if the pain radiates. If the condition is such that there is a disease or neck fracture, chiropractors will make a referral to an appropriate specialist. If the patient’s situation can be treated conservatively, chiropractic care includes cervical manipulation (neck adjustment), and possibly “mobilization, massage or rehabilitative exercises”. In a recent literature review, it was found that patients with chronic neck pain…in clinical trials reported significant improvement” from chiropractic treatments.4 Chiropractors can also treat whiplash. Unless immobilization is required, it is important that the patient stay active during rehabilitation and engage in prescribed stretches and exercises. Ice and heat can help to manage the pain and control the muscle spasm. Physical therapy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation may also be employed. In addition, mobilization and spinal manipulation are also appropriate treatment options for whiplash. To prevent whiplash, or at least to reduce the risk of serious injury, it is important to wear seatbelts and adjust the car’s headrest to the proper height.5
About 15% of the American population is suffering from neck pain, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health Statistics. Hunching, a pinched nerve, muscle strain, or poor posture can cause this, as well as the more serious issues noted before (whiplash, arthritis, degenerative disease). Neck pain, whether chronic or acute, can be treated with massage therapy. To treat neck pain, therapists may focus on the upper back and shoulders, at first. In fact, “gentle massage of the arms, chest, legs and back proves to reduce pain in the neck”. Myofascial release may be used as well as other massage of the head, throat, jaw, face, and neck. Massage not only helps alleviate pain, but regular massage can also keep joints limber, reducing the risk of pulled muscles. It may also improve flexibility posture, range of motion, and relieves stress, while promoting relaxation.6
Neck Pain Prevention
One of the causes of neck pain is poor posture and ergonomics, and a big factor in current times includes “text neck”, a phrase attributed to Dr. Dean Fishman, a Florida chiropractor. Simply put, text neck is the “cervical spinal degeneration…from the repeated stress of frequent forward head flexion while…texting” or looking down at other mobile device screens. With American spending an average of nearly 3 hours a day using mobile devices, text neck is a growing health concern. This does not just impact smart phone users. People who are “hunched over…tablets, PDA, MP3, game consoles, e-readers, media players, digital camera and video recorders” may be affected as well. The forward flexion changes the neck in the way that it impacts the curve, the cervical spine, and the bones, typically leading to changes in posture. As a result, patients complain of neck, back, shoulder, hands, fingers, elbows, wrists, and arm pain. Some may also have tingling and numbness in the upper extremities as well as headaches. The potential damage includes arthritis, flattening of the curve of the spine, spinal degeneration, misalignment, disc herniation and compression, muscle and nerve damage, lung volume capacity issues, and gastrointestinal concerns. In Plantation, Florida, Dr. Fishman founded the Text Neck Institute. They treat patients with chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, spinal decompression, and exercises. Dr. Fishman even created “The Text Neck Indicator” app to alert users if they are using their device in the wrong position.7
Find out more about chiropractic treatments for texting and gaming.