Almost every person has, at some point or another, suffered from cervical issues. And you would have to agree that insistent neck pain is as irritating as it gets! It could be as minor as a trivial stiff neck or as critical as a herniated (slipped) disc but neck problems are not to be taken lightly. As you grow older, your muscles and tissues undergo a whole lot of wear and tear, causing damage to the cervical area and spine. Here is a quick look at some of the most common types of cervical problems that people face:1.Cervical spondylosis2.Degenerative disc3.Neck strain or sprain4.Neck injury5.Herniated disc6.Torticollis (Wryneck)
In addition to the above, there are several other types of cervical conditions that one might come across, but the key to avoiding (or managing) those, lies in this article (and here). We have curated a list of seven pro tips as advised by medical experts so you can keep cervical issues at bay (or recover from preexisting conditions quickly and efficiently). Read on!
1) Always maintain a good posture
You have most likely heard this advice over and over again ever since you were a kid, and we are giving it to you again because it is so important. Poor posture is bound to cause neck stiffness, pain or even injuries since there is too much strain on the muscles and ligaments that support the upper back and neck. Most people tend to put the weight of their head and shoulders forward (commonly called slumping), making things worse. The ideal posture for your cervical spine is when the head is in a neutral position (and the ears are directly above the shoulders, i.e perpendicular).
2) Do neck exercises regularly
Flexibility and strength are essential to preventing injuries of the neck. And a good way to strengthen the muscles is by stretching and exercising the neck regularly. Rotation, shoulder retraction, shrugs, swimming, water aerobics and trigger point exercises can go a long way in helping you recover from minor neck problems. In fact, we recommend doing basic neck exercises every single day, whether or not you suffer from a neck condition.
3) Be aware of your neck health while using your laptop and phone
If you have a desk job or you tend to spend long periods of time in front of the computer, your neck can go from normal to bad to worse before you know it. Studies conducted on ergonomics and ideal body positions suggest that your computer screen needs to be at eye level. If you use a laptop, you have to bend your neck and look downwards for extended periods, in the process damaging your spine. It is best to use a separate monitor that is connected to the laptop so that your gaze is right at the middle of the screen. Most of us are addicted to our smartphones, watching videos and texting, which puts additional pressure on the cervical area. We recommend putting the phone away and using it only when you need to.
4) Try using a cervical pillow
Treating cervical sprains, strains and spasms may need you to switch from your regular pillow to one that keeps your neck in a hyperextended position while you sleep. You can find a host of options when it comes to selecting a cervical pillow online. Some cervical pillows are made of high-quality memory foam that adjusts according to the contours of your head and neck to reduce tension and provide additional comfort.
5) Stay well hydrated
If you needed one more reason to drink more water through the day, here it is. The discs (sponge-like material that lies between the vertebrae) in the neck are made up of water, so nourishing them and keeping them strong is crucial for a healthy neck. Keep sipping on water even when you are not particularly thirsty it will benefit you in more ways than one.
6) Up the intake of magnesium through a conscious diet
Magnesium is known to help in the relaxation and contraction of muscles so including more magnesium-rich foods in your daily diet can help you avoid muscle-related neck issues. Eat lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, tofu, whole grains, and beans. You could also opt for bathing with Epsom salt (or something similar) so your skin absorbs the magnesium in the process.
7) Use a cervical collar in case the pain becomes unbearable
While minor aches and injuries will heal by themselves over a period of time, in some cases, it is best to use assistive devices like cervical collars. Primarily used for immobilizing the neck, cervical collars are designed to arrest neck rotation and lock the chin while also providing ample comfort throughout the day. In extreme cases, your doctor might even recommend regular neck massages or using a cervical traction kit to aid the recovery process. While these seven tips can go a long way in ensuring that you avoid common neck problems (or recover quicker from any neck condition that you might already have), it is best to see a doctor if any kind of stiffness or pain persists for more than two days.
Let us know if you have any additional advice for those suffering from minor-to-severe cervical problems in the comments section below!
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