About That Pain in Your Neck

Sometimes ordinary, every day tension in your neck and shoulders suddenly descends into neck pain. Maybe you can’t turn your head because of stabbing pain in your shoulder. Your neck is painfully stiff. Maybe you have pain shooting down your shoulder and arm. Is your sleep affected?

You’ve decided it’s time to get help and want to know more about it, including who can help. In New York City and New York State you can see a Physical Therapist directly without going to a doctor for a referral. Or you might prefer to see your doctor first to get his advice and impression. Common diagnoses for neck pain are cervical pain, cervical spondylosis, cervical arthritis and cervical radiculopathy.

I’ve made some notes below which I hope will help you on your journey of healing.

The Physical

  • You are getting older and your disks and joints may be injured from misuse, overuse or just stiffness which can come with age. (NB this can be helped.)
  • You have a family history of neck pain and/or back pain. Does anyone in your family have degenerative disk disease (DDD) also called Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)? (Don’t worry: these are awful and unfortunate medical names which basically just mean that your body is aging.) Likewise with a family history of cervical radiculopathy, cervical spondylosis and cervical osteoarthritis, you might be at a greater risk of developing neck pain. Genetics.
  • It’s possible you sleep in a way that irritates your neck muscles and joints. Is your pillow too hard, too soft, too high or too low?  Did you sleep on your belly?
  • Overwork or strain from sitting hours at the computer.
  • Slouching.
  • From exercising – too much or too little.
  • You pulled a muscle in your shoulder or neck – not likely.
  • You were in a car accident or you fell and injured your neck. Do you have whiplash?
  • Your have a habit of holding tension in your neck and shoulders – not just a little but a lot. (Do you have a super stressful job or life or both?) Do you hold your shoulders up around your ears?

 The Psychological

  • You hold psychological tension and stress in your neck. See above.
  • You are stressed / angry / sad / mad / anxious / depressed.  John Sarno, MD wrote extensively about the psychological influences, even causes, of our unacknowledged, unconscious, emotions and thoughts on our bodies – that these thoughts and feelings may be causing your neck pain and low back pain.
  • You are sticking your neck out, engaging in some new and uncomfortable activities which may be causing you stress.
  • You’re a parent
  • A student
  • You work at a stressful job
  • You don’t have a job
  • You have financial stresses
  • You get the picture.

What to do About It?