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4 Essential Lifestyle Changes to Relieve Neck Pain

4 Essential Lifestyle Changes to Relieve Neck Pain

In the age of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, neck pain is an increasingly common problem. All of the time you spend hunched over your devices places extra stress on the part of the spine responsible for supporting the weight of your head.

But you can get relief from your neck pain with a few lifestyle changes. At Orthopedic & Wellness in Frederick, Waldorf, and Germantown, Maryland, our orthopedic and pain management physicians, Dr. Ojedapo Ojeyemi and Dr. Matthew Roh, diagnose and treat all types of neck pain. 

Though treatment needs vary, we find that most people respond well when they make changes to a few daily habits. Here are four essential lifestyle changes you can incorporate into your day to relieve neck pain. 

1. Be mindful of your posture

Your neck — the cervical spine — is designed to support the weight of your head and allow you to move it in many directions. Ideally, your head and neck remain in a neutral position (ears over the shoulders and eyes looking straight ahead) most of the day, distributing your head’s weight equally throughout your spine and body.

However, if you spend a lot of the day with your head bent, looking down at your laptop or smartphone, you’re no longer in a neutral position. This places extra strain on the discs, ligaments, and bones of your cervical spine. Over time, this leads to neck aches, changes in spinal alignment, and degeneration of the discs and cartilage.

Maintaining good posture for most of the day — keeping your head in a neutral position — reduces the extra stress on your neck, decreasing pain levels. Good posture may also slow down degenerative changes to the spine.

2. Take breaks from electronics

Electronics aren’t going away, but you do need to make sure they don’t take over your life. Constantly looking at your phone to check email, texts, social media, and the news means you’re constantly moving your head and looking down.

To save your neck, take planned electronic breaks. Consider banning electronics when you’re eating or spending time with friends and family. You can also create a schedule where you only check your phone at set times, like the top of the hour or during scheduled work breaks.

3. Modify your sleep position

Sleep is important when struggling with any type of pain. It’s when your body recuperates from the day and prepares for the next day. 

But sleeping well is difficult if you have chronic neck pain. Finding the right sleep position that limits your neck pain so you can sleep takes time. We recommend sleeping on your side and using an orthopedic neck pillow that provides support for the cervical spine.

Bending your knees and placing a pillow in between your legs may help, too, reducing stress and strain on your back and neck.

4. Manage your stress

Do you ever notice that your neck pain worsens when you get hit with a big task at work? Stress can exacerbate your neck pain. Find healthy ways to manage stress to prevent these flare-ups, such as:

Neck pain can take over your life, but it doesn’t have to. If you’re struggling with neck pain or back pain and need expert guidance, let us help. We can identify the causes of your pain and the activities that make it worse and create a comprehensive plan so you find long-term relief.

Call the Orthopedic & Wellness office nearest you or book an appointment online today.

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