What’s Causing My Neck Pain?

Published by Shauna Burchett, OTR/L on

Have you ever experienced intense tightness in your neck – like it feels like it’s made of marble? Have you ever felt like your neck is ready to explode after a long day of work? If you have suffered from neck pain (cervical pain), don’t fret! This is not the end of the world. We can help you reduce your pain and suffering. However, in order to tackle this giant, we have to know how neck pain was born.

The first thing you need to figure out is your sitting and standing posture. I know this is not rocket science, but this is one of the powerful weapons against neck pain. If your parents always reminded you not to slouch when you were a kid, guess what?   Your mama was right! The average human head weighs approximately 10 to 15 pounds. That’s equivalent to the weight of a bowling ball! Imagine holding a bowling ball away from your body with your arm fully extended. I bet your shoulders would cry out in 10 seconds. Now, visualize lifting the same bowling ball, but with your elbows bent and the ball placed close to your shoulder. You would be able to lift it without breaking a sweat! The same principle applies to your posture. Your head moves forward when you slouch your back, this shifts the center of gravity of your head off the mid-line. It means your neck muscles have to work constantly keeping your head upright. Consequently, muscle fatigue kicks in and causes neck pain.

Someone once said, “if you live long enough, you will get old.” Aging and “wear and tear” on your joints could cause neck pain also. Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is the degeneration of your intervertebal discs between your vertebrae. It narrows down and increases pressure of the facet joints. So, what does that mean? It’s bad because vertebrae are rich in nerve endings and it hurts when you keep rubbing on it.

The story is not over yet. Your nerve roots are channeled from your spinal cord to your arm via the intervertebral space. If the joint space keeps narrowing down, it could pinch the nerve and cause pain, numbness, and tingling sensations from your neck to fingers.

Treatment for neck pain includes chiropractic and physical therapy treatment. At Synergy Healthcare, our therapist will instruct a  gentle cervical stretching program, manual therapy including Myofascial Release, Strain Counterstrain and muscle energy techniques,  plus postural education. This treatment could prevent potential neck trauma and also reduce your neck symptoms.

Shauna Burchett, OTR/L

Shauna Burchett, OTR/L is a skilled occupational therapist and the owner of Synergy Healthcare. She graduated from the University of Alberta in 1993 with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Shauna began her career as an occupational therapist specializing in traumatic head injuries. She has also worked in skilled nursing facilities specializing in long and short term geriatric rehabilitation. Shauna has been in private practice since 1998.