Modern life can be a pain in the neck. Driving, hunching over screens, and carrying heavy backpacks are usual issues behind aching necks and shoulders. However, a few conditions aren’t discussed as heavily, since they aren’t as common as their counterparts.
At Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine in Ramsey, New Jersey, our expert physicians can help diagnose the cause of your neck pain and treat it appropriately for maximum relief.
Neck pain 101
Your neck consists of several vertebrae and cervical discs, which absorb shock and allow you to twist, turn, and bend your neck. Occasional stiffness and pain is normal and might be caused by everyday problems like carrying a heavy purse or backpack, sleeping awkwardly, having poor posture, staring at a handheld device for hours (tech neck), or even making a hard stop at a red light.
If stretches, pillows, and bedrest aren’t helping with your neck pain, it might be a sign of a more serious issue. Herniated discs, muscle strains, and arthritis are all common causes of persistent neck pain. However, these aren’t the only conditions that can be a pain in the neck.
Lesser known causes of neck pain
Neck pain can be a symptom of many different issues. It can take some time to narrow down the root of your pain, but here’s a few conditions that are worth looking into.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
If you’re experiencing unexplained neck pain and jaw stiffness, a TMJ disorder might be to blame. Issues with the temporomandibular joint can lead to chronic headaches, a misaligned bite, neck pain, and painful clicking while opening and closing your mouth. TMD is common in women, especially those who work with computers or play instruments like the violin.
Although this might seem like a long shot at first, if you spend a significant time outside or with animals, your neck pain might be a sign of Lyme disease. Early symptoms of Lyme include fatigue, fever, headaches, and most notable: muscle and joint aches, particularly in the neck. If your stiff neck is accompanied by other Lyme symptoms, it’s best to bring it up with your doctor right away.
We’ve all heard about the impact stress can have on the body, but it cannot be mentioned enough. Emotional stress can quickly become bodily stress, leading to pain and stiffness in your neck, shoulders, and jaw. This can also tie back into TMJ; many people with high stress levels clench their jaws, which causes TMJ disorders and neck pain.
How you can treat neck pain
The best way to treat neck pain is to treat your body kindly. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, make sure to take a break and do some neck stretches every two hours. Try to improve your posture, and limit the amount of time you spend carrying heavy book bags or backpacks.
A visit to a specialist can help you find out exactly what’s causing your neck pain, so you can begin building a treatment plan that fits your needs. To get in touch with the team at Progressive Spine and Sports Medicine, call 201-273-9702, or request an appointment online.