Neck problems are very common and mostly due to sedentary lifestyle, bad posture, and sharp movements. In this article, we’ll show you how to prevent and treat them!
Surely it’s happened to you–that you couldn’t move your neck or had a lot of pain in the bones in the back of your neck, caused by either a strong injury or your daily activities. Not only can you treat these problems, but you can also avoid them. Have a look at these common problems related to the cervical vertebrae and keep in mind the following simple tips.
Location of the cervical vertebrae
First of all, you should know that the cervical vertebrae refer to the seven vertebrae that are located at the top of the spinal column, that is, the vertebrae in your neck. Each one of these small bones is connected to others through joints. The distance in between these is called the “intervertebral disc”. These bones are the smallest bones in that area of your body and can move thanks to ligaments. These bones are incredibly important because they are the bones that allow for head movements, and also that keep the head supported.
Pain in the cervical vertebrae can be based in the zone around the back of the neck, but it can also spread to the back or the shoulders, since the whole system is interconnected. This pain can limit the function of these bones and vertebrae, and prevent you from moving them correctly. Basically, it can prevent you from turning your head to one side or the other, or “give out” if you try to move it. In these cases, which are much more serious, the pain will show up along with tingling, numbness, dizziness, or headaches.
What are the causes of cervical vertebrae pain?
The majority of these problems arise due to poor movement of the head, neck, or back. The most frequent reasons for cervical vertebrae pain are:
- Bad posture while reading or watching television.
- Keeping a computer screen either too high or too low.
- Sleeping uncomfortably, with a defective mattress or pillow.
- Bending over to pick something up off the floor too quickly.
- Twisting or turning your neck too quickly while doing exercise.
- Bad posture while walking or using the computer, such as rounding your shoulders or back forward.
- Keeping a lot of tension in your neck.
- A sedentary lifestyle.
- Injuries to the area.
- Spending many hours sitting or staying in a bad position for prolonged periods.
- Osteoarthritis in the neck.
- Muscle weakness.
- Chronic untreated problems in the neck, shoulders, or back.
- Depression, stress, or anxiety.
How to treat pain in the cervical vertebrae
If you tend to suffer from pains in your neck, shoulders, or back, it’s very important that you be careful when you are sitting, walking, or sleeping. Correct posture is essential to keeping the health of your spinal column in good condition. Always make sure that your spinal column is in balance, and aligned with gravity, so that it runs in a straight line from your head to your feet. Make sure, whenever you’re sitting, that you don’t curve your back, you aren’t bending your neck forward, and that your shoulders aren’t pressed forward, because doing any of these could generate a lot of tension in that area.
The best posture is to press your abdomen inward, towards your back, and allow your shoulders to lightly fall downward, in a natural movement without force. Another alternative is to balance a book on your head (if it weighs a bit more, better), and don’t allow it to fall. You can walk for a few minutes and pay attention to how your body feels, and try to emulate that position when walking or lying down.
If your cervical vertebrae pain is caused by emotional problems, which can cause there to be tension in your neck, try to take things more calmly, analyze situations with a clear mind, and don’t dwell on your problems too much. If your nerves still bother you, try to find activities that calm you down, such as yoga or meditation. This can calm your emotions and relax your entire body.
How to treat problems in the cervical vertebrae
There are some treatments that you can try at home to alleviate the pain in your cervical vertebrae:
- Apply heat or ice to the area. Ideally, you should apply the cold first (for the three days after the pain starts) and then heat, either through showers or heating pads. Never sleep with a heating pad, in order to avoid burning yourself.
- Avoid harsh physical activity, so that you can calm your symptoms and reduce inflammation.
- Move the zone slowly, to each side, up and down, in small circles, touching the ear to the shoulder, etc. All of these movements will serve to “wake up” your muscles and eliminate tension and pain.
- Try seeing a massage therapist.
- Sleep on a more firm and hard mattress (if you can’t change mattresses, you could put a slab of wood underneath) and use a pillow made especially for the neck (which will have specific curves for your neck).