Your neck supports the full weight of your head, which is about 10-12 pounds on average. Every time you bend your neck to text a friend or tilt it down to read a book, the angle effectively increases the weight of your head and, therefore, the pressure on your neck as well. Just for reference, a 30-degree tilt adds 30 pounds of pressure, and a 60-degree tilt adds 50 pounds.
If you suffer from a neck problem, such as spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, a herniated disc, or whiplash, you can see how even the slightest bend in your neck forward or backwards can exacerbate your pain and other symptoms, such as problems with your arms or legs.
Dr. Patrick McNulty at McNulty Spine in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, is one of the country’s premier spinal experts and can diagnose and treat your neck pain using the most advanced technology. But he also enlists your help in your treatment plan, because your daily habits can either help or hinder your healing process.
Here are the healthy habits he recommends you adopt to complement your neck pain treatment.
Pay attention to your posture
Proper posture is key to preventing neck strain and supporting your treatment if you’ve suffered a neck injury.
When you’re seated, your head should be in a neutral position centered over your torso while your back is straight and tall. Your shoulders should align with your hips, and your feet should be flat on the ground. Adjust your chair height to help you maintain good posture, and keep your computer monitor at eye level.
When you’re recovering from a neck injury, you can support the healing process by allowing your neck muscles and ligaments to rest, which means learning to bring devices up to your eyes, rather than bending your head downward.
Drinking plenty of water every day is a healthy habit for many reasons. Your body is about 60% water, and every cell needs sufficient water to function. Water also lubricates your joints, so your healing neck can use all the hydration it can get. Shoot for drinking at least 2.3 quarts per day if you’re a woman and 3.2 quarts a day if you’re a man.
Stretch and strengthen your neck
While your neck is healing, rest is important. But at a certain point, you need to begin purposeful movements again to relax stiff muscles, increase blood flow, and strengthen the support structures.
Dr. McNulty lets you know exactly when to incorporate gentle stretches and muscle-building exercises into your treatment plan.
Get some sleep
Proper sleep allows your neck tissues to repair and helps alleviate painful inflammation. If you don’t get 7-8 hours of sound sleep each night, you could be sabotaging your neck pain treatment.
To up your sleep hygiene game, take stock of your sleep habits, such as position, timing, meals, and activity level. Try to:
- Sleep on your side or back, not your stomach
- Use a supportive pillow
- Don’t watch TV in the bedroom
- Stop screen time for an hour or so before bed
- Go to bed around the same time every night
- Avoid eating too close to bedtime
- Avoid exercising too close to bedtime
It may take some trial and error to achieve healthy sleep patterns, but once you do, not only will it assist your neck pain treatments, it will also improve your overall health.
Mental and emotional stress cause muscle tension, especially in the cervical area of your spine. When this tension builds up, it leads to joint stiffness, muscle pain, and headaches. You can boost your neck treatment by reducing or eliminating stress from your life, or at least learning how to manage it.
Yoga, exercise, massage therapy, talk therapy, and meditation can all alleviate stress and have a direct impact on your neck pain.
Professional treatment for you neck pain
These habits aren’t meant to replace medical care for your neck pain, but they can make a huge difference in your recovery time. Dr. McNulty offers a wide spectrum of advanced treatments to help you overcome neck pain.
Depending on the underlying cause, you may benefit from nonsurgical treatments, such as spinal injections, nerve blocks, physical therapy, or radiofrequency nerve ablation.
More severe neck conditions may require surgical interventions, including cervical disc replacement or cervical fusion reconstruction.
To learn more about your neck pain treatment options, schedule a consultation with Dr. McNulty by calling us at either location or using our online booking tool.