When you hold your neck in a fixed position for a long period of time or subject your neck muscles to repetitive movements, you're at risk of developing repetitive strain injury to the neck. This condition causes your muscles to tighten, damages tendons and can leave you with trapped nerves. Tasks that can cause repetitive strain injury to the neck include using your ear and shoulder to hold your phone, working on a fast-paced production line and stooping over a desk. Here's an overview of the symptoms and treatment options:
Common symptoms of repetitive strain injury to the neck include neck pain, which will often feel worse when you're actively engaging your neck muscles, and muscle weakness. You may notice your neck feels heavy and stiff, and if you have a trapped nerve, you may experience numbness that travels from your neck down your shoulder and arm. Frequent headaches are also a symptom of repetitive strain injury.
There are a number of treatment options for you to consider:
- Rest - Resting your neck muscles will give them the opportunity to heal. If your injury was caused by the type of work you do, you may want to consider taking some time off or asking for a change of duties until your neck is on the mend.
- Medication - Anti-inflammatory medication can be used to treat trapped nerves by reducing the swelling to surrounding muscles and promoting better blood flow to your neck. These drugs come with a range of side effects, such as gastrointestinal upset and raised blood pressure, and aren't suitable for everyone, so get your doctor's approval before taking any new medication.
- Massage - A deep tissue or Swedish massage can loosen the muscles in your neck and boost your circulation, which will provide more oxygen and nutrients to your neck muscles. These types of massage may leave you feeling a little tender for a couple of days and you'll need to have several sessions to see a long-term improvement in your neck pain, but you should notice your symptoms reducing in severity after a couple of sessions.
- Chiropractic Adjustment - A chiropractor like those at Coogee Chiropractic will use targeted manual manipulations to free trapped nerves and loosen tight muscles. As your muscles tighten, they can pull your vertebrae out of alignment, so your chiropractor will use hands-on techniques such as stretching and thrusting to move your neck back into the proper alignment. This treatment has been shown to be effective for neck pain, and you may notice an improvement in your symptoms after the first session. Chiropractic treatment is suitable for children and pregnant women and is not associated with any dangerous side effects.
If you're experiencing neck pain, seek treatment as soon as possible. The longer your symptoms are allowed to progress, the longer the condition can take to resolve.