Take Care Of Your Cervical Spine
The cervical spine (neck) is at risk of many injuries and trauma due to its delicate structure and alignment. It starts from the base of the skull and is a series of seven vertebrae which connects to the thoracic spine. Some conditions that affect the cervical spine includes cervical degenerative disease, cervical stenosis, cervical disc bulge. neck strain and stiffness.
- Poor postural alignment like head forward, repetitive leaning forward, hunched shoulders, long hours spent in stressful positions like using a computer, reading in bed, poor sitting postures and sleeping positions may lead to neck pain.
- Sports related injuries, motor vehicle accidents (whiplash injury) or a fall can cause neck pain.
- Wear and tear and changes in the discs and joints with age may lead to neck pain and poor posture.
Management With Physiotherapy
- Physiotherapy plays an important role by effectively reducing cervical pain.
- Initial treatment involves rest and application of an ice pack or heat pack for about 10-15 minutes to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation.
- Electro modalities like IFT and ultrasound are helpful in reducing pain.
- Exercises can be started gently and increased gradually.
Exercises To Abate Pain
- Mobility Exercises
Flexion And Extension
Sit in an upright position bending head downwards i.e. pulling chin closer to chest and lifting head upwards until you are looking at the ceiling.
Sit in an upright position and turn head to one side. Now repeat with the other side.
Sit in an upright position and tilt the head towards one shoulder until you feel a stretch. Then repeat it on the other side.
- Isometric Neck Exercises
Place your hand across your forehead and push your head and neck forwards while resisting any movement of the head. Hold for 10 seconds then relax and repeat 10 times.
Place your hand against the back of your head and push your head backwards against the resistance of the hand. Hold for 10 seconds then relax and repeat 10 times.
Place your hands on the side of your head and bend the neck on either side pushing against the resistance of your hand. Hold for 10 seconds then relax and repeat 10 times.
- Strengthening Exercises
Lie on your back and place a small towel roll below your neck and bring your chin towards the throat, Repeat the exercise for 10 times.
Relay your arms and gently make clockwise and anti clockwise motions with the shoulder.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
To stretch the right side, tilt right ear to the right shoulder, Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Do it 10 times and then repeat it on the opposite side.
Levator Scapulae Stretch
To stretch the right side place your right hand behind the head so that your elbow is pointing upwards, now bring your chin towards the left side of your chest until the stretch is felt. Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Aim to do this 10 times. Repeat on the other side.
- Pain around the neck Is the most common symptom and can be referred to the shoulder and shoulder blade.
- If the nerve is affected, then it may lead to pain, numbness or pins and needles in the arm and hand.
- Joint stiffness and muscle spasms may lead to restriction in the movements of the neck.
- Giddiness and light headache may also be provoked by neck pain.
Precautions And Advice
Research shows that working on a desktop for 10/12 hours causes weakness of the muscles which leads to cervical aliments. For desk job workers, ergonomics plays an important role in maintaining proper posture and in avoiding unnecessary strain on the neck.
- While sitting in front of a computer screen, sit erect and took straight.
- Eyes should point directly at the top of the screen.
- Forearms should be parallel to the floor.
- Feet should be flat on the floor and placed on a foot stool.
- Keep shoulders back and relaxed and neck upright.
- Frequent breaks during work should be taken and mobility and stretching exercises should be performed.
- Sleep on a firm mattress and use a thin pillow so that it will keep the neck in alignment with the spine.
- Keep your neck in a neutral position and do not put your pillow over your neck.
- Your sleeping position also plays a major role on your neck.
- Lying on the stomach puts great pressure on the neck, so avoid this position.