At our cervical spine specialty practice in New Jersey, we are constantly examining patients who arrive complaining of chronic neck pain, and diagnosing the cause of their problem. Though many of our patients are found to have significant degenerative processes or injuries that require medical treatment, there are also others for whom the best solution is addressing lifestyle choices that they are making.
Though poor posture and the use of computers and mobile devices have been taking a lot of the blame recently, recent studies are pointing to other contributing factors that people can address on their own.
According to Christian Worsfold, a visiting lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of Herfordshire in England, much of the blame for neck pain that has been attributed to spending too much time on the computer is less about poor posture then it is about lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and overall stress. Worsford attributes far more of the blame on those three factors then he does to specific postures, and says that he has evidence to support his theory for patients both young and old.
“Although beliefs about posture run deep, science is telling a very different story – and there is a strong challenge to the long-assumed role of posture as a cause of neck pain,” Worsford says. “People do sit in positions that vary from person to person, but it appears to have nothing to do with pain.”
Worsford points to a recent study that looked at the posture of over 1,000 teens. That research indicated that there was no difference in the level or incidence of neck pain between those who maintained an erect posture and those who slumped or slouched.
Another study that he referenced similarly determined that the various positions that people assume while at work had no impact on their level or frequency of pain. Instead, he said, the determining factors in chronic pain among those who did not suffer an actual physical cause associated with spinal degeneration or trauma were whether the individuals got good or bad quality sleep, whether they experienced a high degree of stress and/or anxiety in the workplace, and the amount of exercise that they got each week. This was true of adults and children as young as 9 years old.
Suffering from insomnia or interrupted sleep led to neck pain as well as headaches and poor attitudes/moods, and the symptoms remained as long as the lack of sleep or other factors did.
Though the study’s reports seem grim, the good news is that because the issues at hand were oriented around lifestyle, many of those suffering could be helped simply by adding more exercise to their daily schedule, as well as by teaching them better sleep hygiene practices.
“This, along with making sure we don’t become sleep deprived, less physically active and stressed will hopefully manage and prevent neck pain more successfully,” Worsford said. “And if you do have neck pain, get a few early nights, consider doing something relaxing – and why not go for a walk at lunchtime.”
These studies are good news for those whose neck pain can be solved by making these simple changes, but if you are suffering neck pain as a result of injury or deterioration of the discs or nearby structures, you need additional help from our cervical spine specialist in New Jersey.
Contact us today to make an appointment and learn more about how we can help.